Lower Republican Basin Study Act
Statement of Larry Todd
Deputy Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation
Department of the Interior
U. S. House of Representative
Subcommittee on Water and Power
Committee on Resources
H.R. 4750, Lower Republican Basin Study Act
April 26, 2006
My name is Larry Todd, I am Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to provide the Administration’s views on H.R. 4750. H.R. 4750 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior through the Bureau of Reclamation, in consultation with the States of Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado, to conduct a feasibility study for a water supply and conservation project to improve water supply reliability, increase water storage capacity and improve water management efficiency in the Republican River Basin between Harlan County Lake in Nebraska and Milford Lake in Kansas.
Reclamation appreciates Congressman Osborne and Congressman Moran’s willingness to work with the States and Reclamation to address some of the difficult water supply and allocation challenges associated with the Republican River. Reclamation was included in the early stages of the project planning process that resulted in completion of the Lower Republican River Basin Appraisal Report in January 2005. We support the goal of the States, as project sponsors, to develop a locally supported solution that is economical, affordable and environmentally sensible. However, funds have not been allocated to carry out the provisions of H.R. 4750 in the Administration’s budgets for fiscal years 2006 and 2007. Given Reclamation’s need to focus its limited resources on maintaining its existing infrastructure, the Administration cannot support this bill.
Mr. Chairman, Reclamation has been working with the States on Republican River Compact water supply issues for many years. There is some important background information that I would like to share with you today to provide context for consideration of this legislation.
In 1998, Kansas filed a U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit against Nebraska and Colorado because of their belief that Nebraska was using more than its allocation of water under the Republican River Compact. The two States negotiated a settlement that was approved by the United States Supreme Court in May 2003. In accordance with the Final Settlement Stipulations, the States agreed to pursue in good faith, and in collaboration with the United States, system improvements in the Basin, including measures to improve the ability to utilize the water supply below Hardy, Nebraska, on the mainstem. Our appraisal study analyzed a number of alternatives recommended by the Compact Commissioners. The results from the study indicate that there are some water supplies in the basin that are not being fully utilized. With improvements in the existing systems and possibly with additional storage capability, the systems could be managed to alleviate some of the water shortage problems that exist in the lower reaches of the basin.
Mr. Chairman, it is clear that Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska realize that the implementation of the settlement agreement and achievement of compliance with Compact allocations is a long-term effort. A feasibility study could help clarify the opportunities that may exist to increase storage and efficiency in the basin. I would like to repeat my appreciation to Congressmen Osborne and Moran for their attention to this issue. We will continue to work with the States and local interests to find an appropriate solution.
That concludes my testimony, I would be happy to answer any questions.