Legislation

Jun 12 2014

S. 2470

Official Short: New Mexico Drought Relief Act of 2014

Long Title: provide for drought relief measures in the State of New Mexico, and for other purposes.

Sponsors: Mr. Udall (NM) and Mr. Heinrich.

STATUS:

  • June 12, 2014.--Introduced.
  • September 18, 2014.--S.AMDT.3885 Referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

S.2470

New Mexico Drought Relief Act of 2014 (Introduced in Senate - IS)

S 2470 IS

113th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 2470

To provide for drought relief measures in the State of New Mexico, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
June 12, 2014

Mr. UDALL of New Mexico (for himself and Mr. HEINRICH) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


A BILL

To provide for drought relief measures in the State of New Mexico, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short Title- This Act may be cited as the `New Mexico Drought Relief Act of 2014'.
    (b) Table of Contents- The table of contents of this Act is as follows:
      Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
      Sec. 2. Definitions.
      Sec. 3. Water acquisition program.
      Sec. 4. Water conservation.
      Sec. 5. Middle Rio Grande peak flow restoration.
      Sec. 6. National Academy of Sciences study.
      Sec. 7. Emergency funding.
      Sec. 8. Secure Water Act reauthorization.
      Sec. 9. Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act reauthorization.
      Sec. 10. Rio Grande Pueblo irrigation infrastructure reauthorization.
      Sec. 11. Regional conservation partnership program.
      Sec. 12. Conservation reserve program.
      Sec. 13. Effect on State law.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
      (1) BASIN- The term `Basin' means each of--
        (A) the Upper Rio Grande Basin;
        (B) the Middle Rio Grande Basin;
        (C) the Lower Rio Grande Basin;
        (D) the Lower Pecos River Basin;
        (E) the Gila River Basin;
        (F) the Canadian River Basin;
        (G) the San Francisco River Basin; and
        (H) the San Juan River Basin.
      (2) DISTRICT- The term `District' means the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.
      (3) PUEBLO- The term `Pueblo' means each of the following pueblos in the State:
        (A) Cochiti.
        (B) Santo Domingo.
        (C) San Felipe.
        (D) Santa Ana.
        (E) Sandia.
        (F) Isleta.
      (4) SECRETARIES- The term `Secretaries' means--
        (A) the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency;
        (B) the Secretary of Commerce; and
        (C) the Secretary of the Interior.
      (5) SECRETARY- The term `Secretary' means the Secretary of the Interior.
      (6) STATE- The term `State' means the State of New Mexico.

SEC. 3. WATER ACQUISITION PROGRAM.

    (a) In General- The Secretary, acting through the Commissioner of Reclamation, shall carry out in the Basins a water acquisition program in coordination with the other appropriate Federal agencies, State agencies, and non-Federal stakeholders, under which the Secretary shall--
      (1) make acquisitions of water in the Basins; and
      (2) take any other actions that the Secretary determines would achieve the purposes of the water acquisition program described in subsection (b).
    (b) Purposes- The purposes of the water acquisition program are--
      (1) to enhance stream flow to benefit fish and wildlife (including endangered species), water quality, and river ecosystem restoration in the Basins; and
      (2) to enhance stewardship and conservation of working land, water, and watersheds in the Basins, consistent with the purpose described in paragraph (1).
    (c) Coordination- To assist in developing and administering the program, the Secretary may provide funds to a federally established nonprofit entity with particular expertise in western water transactions.
    (d) District Projects- Subject to State law, the Secretary may develop programs to provide--
      (1) cost-share assistance to the District or agricultural producers and irrigators in the District for making irrigation system improvements that increase system efficiency;
      (2) for the use of agricultural leasing agreements to allow the District to provide water for the purpose of providing benefits to species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and other river ecosystem benefits; and
      (3) cost-share assistance to the District to implement infrastructure or operational changes that will allow for effective management of a leasing program, while maintaining adequate water deliveries to other agricultural producers and irrigators.
    (e) Authorization of Appropriations- There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this section $30,000,000.

SEC. 4. WATER CONSERVATION.

    (a) In General- The Secretary, in cooperation with the District and in consultation with the Pueblos, may provide funding and technical assistance for the installation of metering and measurement devices and the construction of check structures on irrigation diversions, canals, laterals, ditches, and drains--
      (1) to ensure the conservation and efficient use of water within the District by reducing actual consumptive use or not increasing the use of water; and
      (2) to improve the measurement and allocation of water acquired through the water acquisition program established under section 3.
    (b) Rio Grande, San Acacia Reach-
      (1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall provide for development of a comprehensive plan for the San Acacia reach to plan, design, construct and prioritize projects that balance river maintenance, water availability, use, and delivery, and ecosystem benefits, including--
        (A) planning, permitting, and construction of a pumping station at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge for the purpose of more efficiently using water to provide--
          (i) a stable supply for the Refuge; and
          (ii) additional water to the Rio Grande for the benefit of the endangered silvery minnow and Southwestern willow flycatcher;
        (B) planning, permitting, and construction of a channel realignment project near the Rio Grande mile-83 for the purpose addressing channel aggradation while maintaining floodplain connectivity;
        (C) planning, permitting, and construction of a controlled outlet for the low flow conveyance channel to the Rio Grande between Fort Craig, New Mexico and Rio Grande mile-60 for the purpose of water use and delivery, enhancement and development of habitat areas, and possible creation of a single-channel river ecosystem;
        (D) planning, permitting, and modification or possible removal of the San Acacia Diversion Dam for purposes of reducing habitat fragmentation and securing fish passage, including channel restoration as necessary, while ensuring adequate water supplies for irrigators; and
        (E) development of a San Acacia reach study to identify additional projects and maintenance activities with water use and delivery and ecosystem benefits and prioritize implementation of all projects and activities.
      (2) PUBLIC PARTICIPATION- In carrying out this subsection, the Secretary shall provide a process for public participation and comment during plan development and alternative analysis.
    (c) Authorization of Appropriations- There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this section $18,000,000.

SEC. 5. MIDDLE RIO GRANDE PEAK FLOW RESTORATION.

    (a) In General- During the 5-year period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Army shall continue the temporary deviation in the operation of Cochiti Lake and Jemez Canyon Dam that was initiated in 2009 to evaluate the benefits of a potential permanent reauthorization of the reservoirs.
    (b) Goals- The deviation mandated under subsection (a) shall provide for the detention and release of native Rio Grande water and San Juan-Chama Project water with the goals of--
      (1) restoring natural river processes to the Rio Grande, including a Spring peak flow to the Rio Grande;
      (2) increasing the spawning and recruitment of endangered Rio Grande silvery minnows;
      (3) creating overbanking flows that are necessary--
        (A) to maintain a healthy bosque; and
        (B) to support habitat for the Southwestern willow flycatcher and other wildlife; and
      (4) maintaining channel capacity.
    (c) Monitoring- The Secretary of the Army, in cooperation with the Secretary and other members of the Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program, shall--
      (1) monitor the environmental effects, benefits, and results of the deviation mandated under this section; and
      (2) compile any data necessary to evaluate the need for further amendment to the authorizations and water control manuals for Cochiti Lake or Jemez Canyon Dam.
    (d) Consultation Required- Before implementing the proposed deviation under this section, as required by the applicable water control manuals, the Secretary of the Army shall first obtain approval from--
      (1) Pueblo de Cochiti regarding the effect of the deviation on the easement of Pueblo de Cochiti;
      (2) Pueblo of Santa Ana; and
      (3) the Rio Grande Compact Commission.
    (e) Reports- The Secretary of the Army shall prepare and submit to Congress--
      (1) for each year in which the deviation is being carried out under this section, annual reports that describe the data compiled under subsection (c)(2); and
      (2) at the end of the period described in subsection (a), a final, cumulative report that summarizes the data obtained during that period.

SEC. 6. NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES STUDY.

    (a) In General- Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary shall enter into an arrangement with the National Academy of Sciences to carry out a study on water and reservoir management and operation issues along the Rio Grande (including the Heron, El Vado, Abiquiu, Cochiti, Jemez Canyon, Elephant Butte, and Caballo Dams and Reservoirs), which shall include--
      (1) an evaluation of existing Rio Grande reservoir authorizations and legal requirements;
      (2) a summary of--
        (A) the physical-hydrologic understanding of existing Rio Grande reservoir operations; and
        (B) any potential constraints on the Rio Grande reservoir in light of climate change projections;
      (3) an identification of opportunities to optimize water management to benefit the Rio Grande ecosystem, irrigators and municipal users, and to promote water conservation through reauthorization of, reoperation of, or physical improvements to the reservoirs;
      (4) an evaluation of the physical-hydrologic feasibility of the identified future reservoir management scenarios;
      (5) an identification of water use, supply, and accounting impacts to other stakeholders in the State;
      (6) consideration of operations such as--
        (A) the storage of supplemental water acquired by and under the control of the Bureau of Reclamation;
        (B) the carryover storage of San Juan-Chama Project contract water and Pueblo Prior and Paramount operation water;
        (C) changes in timing of water released to offset municipal pumping;
        (D) changes in the timing of storage and release of floodwaters;
        (E) the reduction of evaporative losses from reservoirs;
        (F) conservation of water resulting from irrigation operation changes;
        (G) the impacts of deliveries of New Mexico Rio Grande Compact water;
        (H) the impacts of management and operations on recreation and hydropower;
        (I) the impacts of management and operations on the Rio Grande ecosystem and the habitats that support species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); and
        (J) any other factors the Academy determines to be necessary for purposes of fully evaluating opportunities to achieve greater water conservation, drought resiliency, and ecological health; and
      (7) recommendations for future management scenarios and measures that Congress should take to assist the agencies in establishing more flexible operating procedures to improve the performance of reservoir operations in accommodating multiple purposes.
    (b) Cosponsors- The Secretary of the Army and the Secretary may solicit cosponsors for the study under subsection (a), as appropriate, including State or private organizations.
    (c) Public Availability of Study- On the date on which the National Academy of Sciences completes the study under this section, the National Academy of Sciences shall make available to the public the results of the study.
    (d) Report- Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the National Academy of Sciences shall submit to the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary a report that contains a summary of the results of the study conducted under this section.
    (e) Due Deference- The Secretary of the Army and the Secretary shall provide for due deference to the study and report prepared under this section in water management activities undertaken by the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary in the Rio Grande.

SEC. 7. EMERGENCY FUNDING.

    (a) Financial Assistance-
      (1) IN GENERAL- Financial assistance may be made available under the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991 (43 U.S.C. 2201 et seq.), title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3801 et seq.), and any other applicable Federal law (including regulations), to be divided among each applicable program at the discretion of the Secretaries for eligible water projects to assist the State and other Western States address drought-related impacts to water supplies or any other immediate water-related crisis or conflict.
      (2) ADDITIONAL AVAILABILITY- Financial assistance may be made available under this section to organizations and entities, including tribal governments, that are engaged in collaborative processes to restore the environment or are part of a basin-wide solution for restoration.
    (b) Types of Assistance- Assistance under subsection (a) shall include a range of projects, including--
      (1) the installation of pumps, temporary barriers, or operable gates for water diversion and fish protection;
      (2) the installation of drought-relief groundwater wells for Indian tribes and in wildlife refuges and other areas;
      (3) the acquisition or assistance in the acquisition of water from willing sellers to enhance stream flow for the benefit of fish and wildlife (including endangered species), water quality, river ecosystem restoration, and other beneficial purposes;
      (4) agricultural and urban conservation and efficiency projects providing multiple water supply benefits;
      (5) exchanges with any water district willing to provide water to meet the emergency water needs of other water districts in return for the delivery of equivalent quantities of water later that year or in future years;
      (6) maintenance of cover crops to prevent public health impacts from severe dust storms;
      (7) emergency pumping projects for critical health and safety purposes;
      (8) activities to reduce water demand consistent with a comprehensive program for environmental restoration and settlement of water rights claims;
      (9) the use of new or innovative on-farm water conservation technologies or methods that may--
        (A) assist in sustaining permanent crops in areas with severe water shortages; and
        (B) make water available for other beneficial uses;
      (10) activities that protect, restore, or enhance fish and wildlife habitat or otherwise improve environmental conditions, including water quantity or quality concerns and improved fish passage;
      (11) activities reducing or preventing groundwater depletion or promoting groundwater recharge;
      (12) technical assistance to improve existing irrigation practices to provide water supply benefits;
      (13) the investigation of, and pilot projects for, brackish water development and aquifer storage and recovery;
      (14) the lining of irrigation ditches and canals to reduce water loss and improve efficiency;
      (15) assistance to municipal water management entities for water supply planning in preparation for and in response to dry, critically dry, and below normal water years, including--
        (A) hydrological forecasting;
        (B) identification of alternative water supply sources; and
        (C) guidance on potential water transfer partners; and
      (16) any other assistance the Secretary determines to be necessary to increase available water supplies, maintain the health of river ecosystems, or mitigate drought impacts.

SEC. 8. SECURE WATER ACT REAUTHORIZATION.

    Section 9504 of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (42 U.S.C. 10364) is amended--
      (1) in subsection (a)--
        (A) in paragraph (1)(H)--
          (i) in clause (i), by striking `or' after the semicolon at the end;
          (ii) in clause (ii), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; or'; and
          (iii) by adding at the end the following:
          `(iii) to plan for or address the impacts of drought.'; and
        (B) in paragraph (3)(E), by adding at the end the following:
          `(v) AUTHORITY OF COMMISSIONER- The Commissioner of Reclamation may, at the discretion of the Commissioner--
            `(I) waive any cost-share requirements to address emergency drought situations;
            `(II) prioritize projects based on the ability of the projects--

`(aa) to expeditiously yield multiple water supply benefits during periods of drought; or

`(bb) to prevent any other immediate water-related crisis or conflict; and

            `(III) give priority to projects demonstrating innovative conservation tools or methods that balance instream and out-of-stream water supply needs, including water conservation and water marketing.'; and
      (2) in subsection (e), by striking `$200,000,000' and inserting `$300,000,000'.

SEC. 9. RECLAMATION STATES EMERGENCY DROUGHT RELIEF ACT REAUTHORIZATION.

    Section 301 of the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991 (43 U.S.C. 2241) is amended--
      (1) by striking `$90,000,000' and inserting `$190,000,000'; and
      (2) by striking `2012' and inserting `2018'.

SEC. 10. RIO GRANDE PUEBLO IRRIGATION INFRASTRUCTURE REAUTHORIZATION.

    Section 9106 of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11; 123 Stat. 1304) is amended--
      (1) in subsection (c)(4), by striking `2 years after the date of enactment of this Act' and inserting `December 31, 2016'; and
      (2) in subsection (g)(2)--
        (A) by striking `$6,000,000' and inserting `$12,000,000'; and
        (B) by striking `2010 through 2019' and inserting `2015 through 2024'.

SEC. 11. REGIONAL CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM.

    The Secretary of Agriculture may allocate financial assistance made available under subtitle I of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3871 et seq.) to establish special conservation initiatives at the local, State, or regional level to assist producers in implementing eligible activities on agricultural land in the western States for the purposes of--
      (1) mitigating the effects of drought on agricultural production and the environment;
      (2) improving water quality and quantity, including reducing groundwater depletion;
      (3) restoring, enhancing, and preserving fish and wildlife habitat; and
      (4) promoting innovative and collaborative conservation tools and approaches.

SEC. 12. CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM.

    (a) Conservation Priority Areas- Section 1231(f) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3831(f)) is amended--
      (1) in paragraph (2), by striking `or' and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting `, water quantity, or habitat impacts related to agricultural production activities.';
      (2) in paragraph (3), by striking `or' and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting `, water quantity, or habitat impacts related to agricultural production activities.'; and
      (3) in paragraph (4), by striking `water quality and habitat benefits' and inserting `water quality, water quantity, and habitat benefits'.
    (b) Special Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program- Section 1234(g)(2)(B) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3834(g)(2)(B)) is amended by inserting `, including improving water conservation and drought mitigation' before the period at the end.

SEC. 13. EFFECT ON STATE LAW.

    (a) In General- An action taken by any of the Secretaries or other entity under this Act or an amendment made by this Act shall comply with applicable State laws in effect on the date of enactment of this Act, including a law described in subsection (b).
    (b) State Law- Nothing in this Act or an amendment made by this Act affects, is intended to affect, or interferes with a law of the State relating to the control, appropriation, use, or distribution of water, or any vested right acquired under the law.