Hearings and Business Meetings

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 02:30 PM

Mr. Richard Atwater

Chair, National Legislative Committee, WateReuse Association

Testimony
The Bureau of Reclamation’s Reuse and Recycling Program
(Title XVI of P.L. 102-575)
Submitted to:
Honorable Lisa Murkowski
Chairman
Subcommittee on Water & Power
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
Presented by:
Mr. Richard Atwater
Chief Executive Officer
Inland Empire Utilities Agency
On behalf of the
WateReuse Association
February 28, 2006
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Introduction
Madam Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, the WateReuse Association is
pleased to have the opportunity to present this testimony on the importance and role of
the Bureau of Reclamation’s Reuse and Recycling Program (Title XVI) in ensuring an
adequate water supply for the nation in the 21st century. I am Richard Atwater,
Chairman of the WateReuse Association’s National Legislative Committee, and I am
representing the Association today.
As a way of introduction, the WateReuse Association (WateReuse) is a non-profit
organization whose mission is to advance the beneficial and efficient use of water
resources through education, sound science, and technology using reclamation,
recycling, reuse, and desalination for the benefit of our members, the public, and the
environment. Across the United States and the world, communities are facing water
supply challenges due to increasing demand, drought, and dependence on a single
source of supply. WateReuse address these challenges by working with local agencies
to implement water reuse and desalination projects that resolve water resource issues
and create value for communities. The vision of WateReuse is to be the leading voice
for reclamation, recycling, reuse, and desalination in the development and utilization of
new sources of high quality water.
I am also Chief Executive Officer of Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA), located in
Chino, California. By implementing aggressive conservation programs and using
innovative recycling and desalting technologies to reuse our water supplies, we have
reduced our potable water demand by 20% over the past five years. IEUA is a
municipal water district that distributes imported water from the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California and provides municipal/industrial wastewater
collection and treatment services to more than 800,000 people within a 242
square mile area in the western portion of San Bernardino County. The Inland
Empire region is the "economic engine" of California and among the top 10 job
creating regions in the US.
The IEUA service area population is expected to double during the next 20 years. About
7000 new homes each year are being built in the IEUA service area. Inland Empire is
not depending on new imported supplies from the Colorado River or northern California
through the CALFED Bay-Delta Program to meet our future water supply needs.
Instead, we have developed an integrated water resources plan that will develop 95,000
acre-feet of new recycled water, desalinate over 50,000 acre-feet of brackish
groundwater supplies, and, with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California,
develop 150,000 acre-feet of conjunctive use in the Chino groundwater basin. These
will be the primary new water supplies to meet the rapidly growing needs of the Inland
Empire region of Southern California.
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A critical partner in making these new local water supplies available in our region is the
Federal government. Pending in Congress are Title XVI bills that would authorize a $20
million grant to provide a 10% Federal cost-share for the IEUA regional water recycling
project of 95,000 acre-feet (total cost is $200 million). Without a doubt this cost-sharing
arrangement to develop a critical new supply for a rapidly growing region without asking
for more supplies from the Colorado River or northern California (CALFED) is incredibly
cost-effective when compared to the other supply options available in the CALFED Bay-
Delta Program.
On behalf of the Association’s Board of Directors, I want to commend you, Madam
Chairman, for convening this hearing. The hearing is especially timely, given the
increasing number of challenges facing local agencies in their continuing quest to
ensure adequate water supplies in the future. It is our understanding that you would like
our thoughts on the United States Bureau of Reclamation’s (USBR) Title XVI Program.
WateReuse is pleased to provide its views on this important and valuable program. We
would also like to expand our comments beyond Title XVI and recommend some
specific actions that the Federal government could take to address the nation’s future
water supply needs. Clearly if the U.S. is to address its future water supply needs in an
effective manner, the Federal government must play a leadership role.
The Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI Reuse and Recycling Program
In your invitation letter, Madam Chairman, you requested that the Association address
three specific topics: 1) our experiences with Title XVI; 2) the potential project benefits;
and 3) suggestions for reshaping and improving the program. Let me address each of
these topics.
Experiences with the Title XVI Program and Program Benefits
My personal history with Title XVI can be traced all the way back to the enactment of
the legislation. As the General Manager of the West and Central Basin Water
Management Districts at the time of the passage of the Title XVI legislation in 1992, I
was strongly supportive of the legislation. Once the legislation was enacted, West
Basin was fortunate to be one of the first recipients of grant funding. This grant funding
had numerous benefits for West Basin as well as the approximately 30 other local
agencies that have received grant funding over the past 13 years, including the Orange
County Water District (OCWD), represented here today by Virginia Grebbien, OCWD’s
General Manager.
The Association and its members have a long-standing and productive working
relationship with the USBR and its Title XVI program. The Title XVI program has
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benefited many communities in the West by providing grant funds that made these
projects more affordable. The Federal cost share – although a relatively small portion of
the overall project cost – often makes the difference in determining whether a project
qualifies for financing. In addition, the Federal funding and the imprimatur of the United
States government typically results in a reduced cost of capital.
The Association believes that the Title XVI program is an unqualified success and
represents a sound investment in the future of the West by the Federal government.
Through FY 2004, the Federal investment of $272.5 million has been leveraged by a
factor of approximately 5:1. According to a recently completed study by the Council on
Environmental Quality (CEQ), the non-Federal investment to date during this same
period amounted to $1.085 billion.
In enumerating specific project benefits, we must not forget the intangible benefits that
exist when this critical new water supply is brought on line in addition to the financial
value of such projects. These include the following:
?? Environmental benefits realized through the conversion of treated wastewater
into a valuable new water supply;
?? Reduction of the quantity of treated wastewater discharged to sensitive or
impaired surface waters.
?? Avoidance of construction impacts of new supply development (e.g., new dams
and other expensive importation aqueducts);
?? Reduced dependence on the Colorado River and on the CALFED Bay-Delta
System, especially during drought years when conflicts on both of these water
systems are particularly intense.
?? Creation of a dependable and controllable local source of supply for cities in arid
and semi-arid climates such as El Paso, Phoenix, and Las Vegas; and
?? Reduced demand on existing potable supplies.
?? Energy benefits, including reduced energy demand and transmission line
constraints during peak use periods, realized by the replacement of more energyintensive
water supplies such as pumped imported water with less energyintensive
water sources like recycled water.
A fundamental question is “why would we want to use valuable, high quality water from
the Bureau of Reclamation’s Shasta Reservoir in northern California or Lake Powell in
Utah and pump and transport it over 500 miles to irrigate a park or golf course in the
Los Angeles or San Diego metropolitan areas?” Also remember that the replacement of
that imported water with local recycled water will save enough energy from reduced
pumping equivalent to a 500 megawatt power plant! Obviously the energy and water
policy issues facing the arid West clearly justify a “strategically” small grant program to
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use recycled water as a means to continue to support the economic vitality of the major
metropolitan areas throughout the Colorado and Rio Grande River basins.
In its FY 2004 review of the Bureau’s Title XVI program, the Office of Management and
Budget (OMB) rated the program “moderately effective.” OMB noted that “these water
reuse and recycling projects help expand water supplies in areas that routinely face
severe water shortages, and are especially important in helping to shift California from
its dependence on Colorado River water.” OMB was also complimentary of Bureau
staff, noting that staff “generally work[s] very closely and effectively with local sponsors
in project development and planning and are efficient in supplying grant funds and
technical assistance.” The Association concurs with OMB on both of these findings; our
experience in working with the Bureau has been a very positive one. We would only add
that, when compared to traditional Bureau of Reclamation multiple purpose water
supply projects, Title XVI is very cost-effective and minimizes the need for future
additional Federal obligations to solve interstate water problems.
Suggestions for Improvement of the Title XVI Program
The Association strongly supports the continuation of Title XVI funding. Unfortunately,
communities in the East do not qualify for Title XVI funds. Hence, WateReuse supports
the establishment of a national competitive grants program that would provide Federal
grant funding for which communities in all 50 states would be eligible.
Water reuse and recycling is now practiced all over the country, not just in the 17
western states. In addition to California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida, the states of New
Mexico, Washington, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, and New Jersey have growing water
reuse programs. Water reuse is growing at a 15% compound annual growth rate as
shown in Appendix A (Figure 1). Current planned reuse is estimated at 3.6 billion
gallons per day and is projected to grow to 12 billion gallons per day by the year 2015.
Substantial growth potential remains, however. According to EPA’s most recent Needs
Survey, 34.9 billion gallons per day of wastewater were generated in 2000. This means
that only about 10% is being beneficially reclaimed and reused (see Figure 2).
Statistics on actual use in California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona – which account for
approximately 90% of all water reuse in the U.S. – are shown in Appendix A (Figure 3).
As the Subcommittee considers actions to make the Title XVI program stronger and
more effective, we recommend that consideration be given to the following:
1) Creation of a competitive grants program;
2) Expansion of eligibility to include communities in all 50 states; and
3) Provision of an annual authorization of funding of $200 million/year.
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A policy and Federal leadership commitment with this relatively modest level of federal
investment would mean that the nation would begin to respond to the demands placed
on current limited water supplies and would address municipal, industrial and
commercial demands as well as natural resources needs as documented in the
Department of the Interior’s Water 2025 assessment in 2002.
The current Title XVI program allows a Federal contribution of the lesser of $20 million
or 25% of the total project costs. To allow more communities to participate in this
valuable program, the Association would support a reduction in Federal cost sharing to
the lesser of $20 million or 20% of total project costs. We think that, when compared to
all other Bureau of Reclamation authorized projects, the Title XVI “targeted low cost
share grant program” has the greatest benefits for solving regional water problems and
at the lowest Federal investment cost.
Finally, the Association recommends that the Congress appropriate funds to conduct a
national survey of water reuse and recycling needs. A national survey would serve a
number of purposes, including 1) documentation of national, regional, and local water
reuse and recycling needs, 2) documentation of willingness of local agencies to expend
funds on water reuse projects if they could obtain some level of Federal support, and 3)
a quantification of benefits – both financial and social -- of existing Title XVI projects and
future planned projects.
The Federal Role in Water Reuse and Desalination
In the opinion of our Association, the Federal government should take a leadership role
in promoting water reclamation and reuse, desalination, groundwater recharge
technology, and water use efficiency/conservation innovation. If the appropriate Federal
role is identified now and appropriate actions are taken, our nation will be well
positioned to meet the water supply challenges of the future.
There are numerous ways in which the leadership role of the Federal government could
manifest itself. Federal subsidies for local water reuse projects and targeted investment
through demonstration grants could be used to promote reuse practices. The Federal
government could promote increased use of recycled water at Federal facilities (e.g.,
military bases and new GSA buildings); these could be examples of good stewards of
water efficiency and water reuse.
We also believe it is critically important for the Federal government to provide adequate
funding for research. If this country is to have the wherewithal to provide cost- effective
water supply facilities, we must be able to reduce the costs of production and to
increase greater public acceptance and reliance on alternative water supplies.
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One of the many issues faced by water researchers is to understand the meaning and
potential health and ecological impacts of thousands of organic compounds that have
been identified at trace levels in wastewater and other alternative supplies. The
challenge is that analytical methods, which allow identification of emerging chemical
contaminants for both drinking water and wastewater, are ahead of the science that
allows us to understand what these emerging contaminants mean in terms of protection
of public health and the environment, and ultimately what treatment technologies are
needed to ensure safe and appropriate alternative supply development. The same
challenge is true for microbial contaminants. This is not only a water reuse challenge,
but also one that also applies to every municipality whose source of water supply is a
major river or whose groundwater is impacted by impaired water sources. Only through
conducting substantial research can local, state, and Federal governments provide
proper assurance to the public that both drinking water and reclaimed water are safe.
WateReuse is also strongly supportive of additional Federal funding for water reuse and
desalination projects. Although the President’s budget typically includes less than $20
million for USBR’s Title XVI program (note: the FY 2007 budget includes only $10
million), we have consistently encouraged the Congress to support this worthwhile
program with an appropriate level of funding (i.e., $100 million/year or more).
Recommendations
In summary, we believe that alternative water supplies, including water reuse and
desalination, will be a critical component of the nation’s water supply in the 21st century.
To ensure that this important resource is fully utilized and that appropriate actions are
taken now in order to avoid a future water crisis, the Federal government needs to play
a leadership role. Some of the specific actions that should be taken by the
Subcommittee include the following:
• Support additional research, technology demonstrations and technology
transfer of water reuse that is essential to developing answers to questions on
environmental pollutants of concerns, gaining public acceptance. and
reducing the costs of production;
• Support increased funding for the Title XVI program;
• Support the enactment of legislation that would establish a competitive grants
program for which local water agencies in all 50 states would be eligible that
would provide funding for much needed water reuse and desalination
projects. The Subcommittee should advocate an authorization of $100
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million/year for water reuse projects and $100 million for desalination over at
least a five year period.
• Increase Federal “venture capital” (i.e., seed capital assistance through
innovative financing tools and targeted grants (e.g., Title XVI) to assist
communities in developing innovative and new demonstrations of reuse and
desalination technology.
Conclusion
Once again, the WateReuse Association wants to thank you, Madam Chairman, for
convening this hearing. We would be pleased to work with you in addressing critical
issues related to water reuse and recycling, desalination, and water use efficiency. We
are strongly supportive of the Subcommittee’s efforts to ensure adequate and safe
supplies of water in the future for the entire country.