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Witness Panel 2
Mr. Richard AtwaterChair, National Legislative CommitteeWateReuse Association
The Bureau of Reclamation’s Reuse and Recycling Program
(Title XVI of P.L. 102-575)
Honorable Lisa Murkowski
Subcommittee on Water & Power
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
Mr. Richard Atwater
Chief Executive Officer
Inland Empire Utilities Agency
On behalf of the
February 28, 2006
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.
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-
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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
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
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.
Mr. Thomas DonnellyExecutive Vice PresidentNational Water Resources Association
United States Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Water and Power
Thomas F. Donnelly
Executive Vice President
National Water Resources Association
Title XVI of Public Law 102-575
The National Water Resources Association (NWRA) is a nonprofit federation of associations and individuals dedicated to the conservation, enhancement, and efficient management of our Nation's most precious natural resource, - WATER. The NWRA is the oldest and most active national association concerned with water resources policy and development. Its strength is a reflection of the tremendous "grassroots" participation it has generated on virtually every national issue affecting western water conservation, management, and development.
In the West, water infrastructure is every bit as important as transportation infrastructure. It is essential to the continued economic growth and development of the nation. Water infrastructure needs continue to exist, particularly considering the West’s rapid population growth [9 out of 10 of the fastest growing states are Reclamation States]. However, on the whole, today’s infrastructure needs are different from those of the past. No one envisions a future infrastructure development program and financing arrangements like the Reclamation program, which facilitated the development and economic growth of the West during much of the last century. It is time to recognize and address a new generation of infrastructure development needs and financing realities. Future projects are more likely to include non-structural features, environmental enhancement, proven best management practices, innovative approaches to water quality/quantity concerns and greater levels of non-federal financing.
Projects and programs that maximize the use and reuse of existing supplies are greatly needed in the West. Title XVI of Public Law 102-575 was intended to be such a program. Conceptually, Title XVI is a sound and much-needed federal program; however, it is currently dysfunctional and out of favor with the Administration. NWRA strongly supports a reconstituted Title XVI program which provides cost shared funding for research, demonstration programs and construction of projects that represent new or improved technologies for water recycling, reuse, desalination and conservation in the arid and semi-arid West.
Recommendations for Improving Title XVI of Public Law 102-575
APPLICATION AND AWARD PROCESS
The single biggest flaw in the current program is the manner in which projects are selected for authorization and funding. In point of fact, the process has devolved into one that rewards those project sponsors employing the most connected and influential lobbyists rather than on the merits of the project or its technology and the needs of the communities applying for assistance.
We would recommend that the law be amended to establish a formal application process that requires the Bureau of Reclamation to present to Congress a written report recommending or rejecting the project application based upon factors such as, but not limited to, benefit/cost, ability to cost share at an increased level, promising new technology, and the prospect of impending water shortages in the project area.
If such a process was incorporated into the law it would then be incumbent upon the authorizing and appropriating committee in Congress to reject projects for which a Commissioner’s report had not been forwarded to the authorizing Committees.
USE AND USE RESTRICTIONS
It has been suggested that the program should be made a national program. I suspect that water supply districts or agencies throughout the country could make use of such a program, but we would strongly recommend that the program be made available only in those States whose communities are coping with long-range water supply problems. There are a few non-Reclamation states that are facing water supply challenges akin to the problems faced by water supply districts in the arid and semi-arid West, most notably, Florida. Congress could choose to extend Reclamation’s Title XVI authority individually to States facing long-term water supply problems as was done by Public Law 106-566 for the State of Hawaii.
The question of whether or not the Title XVI program should remain the responsibility of the Bureau of Reclamation depends largely upon Congress’ vision of the future scope and direction of the program. First, we would oppose transferring the Title XVI program to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps’ primary civil works mission is navigation and flood control. The only justification expressed to date for such a transfer of authority is the hope that under the Corps of Engineers the program would be funded at a much higher level. If the objectives of Title XVI continue to be those stated in the authorizing legislation and it remains a program addressing the critical water supply needs in arid and semi-arid states or additional states facing similar problems, we believe that the program should remain under the purview of the Bureau of Reclamation. Should Congress choose to expand the scope of the program and make it national in scope, we could see distinct advantages in transferring it to the Environmental Protection Agency. However, as stated previously, we strongly believe that the Title XVI program should benefit only those States whose communities continue to struggle with meeting the water supply demands of a rapidly growing population – the Reclamation West.
Each year the federal budget provides millions of dollars to States and communities to provide water for environmental purposes, Native American trust responsibilities and other purposes. The restoration of the Everglades and California’s Bay-Delta, water for anadromous fish and Indian water rights settlements have and will continue to cost the American taxpayers billions of dollars. Finding and/or providing additional water is the principle element in all of these mitigation or settlement programs.
The Title XVI program can be used effectively to explore and develop technologies that provide additional water to meet the future needs and competing demands of growing communities and environmental mitigation and enhancement.
The program currently calls for a minimum non-federal cost share of 75 percent on all projects and provides a maximum of $20 million per project. In comparison to most other federal/non-federal cost shared programs, Title XVI is a bargain for the federal government.
In amending the program, Congress should consider increasing the federal cost share and the maximum provided per project for those projects that satisfy national goals and objectives such as the aforementioned projects and programs.
1. NWRA strongly supports a reconstituted Title XVI program under the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
2. NWRA recommends that the Title XVI of PL 102-575 be amended to establish a formal application process that requires the Bureau of Reclamation to present to Congress a written report recommending or rejecting the project application before Congressional authorization or funding.
3. NWRA recommends that Title XVI remain principally a program benefiting the arid and semi-arid States which could be extended on an individual bases to States demonstrating a critical need.
4. NWRA recommends that the federal/non-federal cost sharing be made more flexible for projects creating new supplies of water that satisfy national goals and objectives.
In conclusion, the National Water Resources Association greatly appreciates the opportunity to present our views to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and we stand committed to assist the committee in its efforts to improve upon this important program.
Ms. Virginia Grebbien
P.O. Box 8300, Fountain Valley, CA 92728-8300 • 10500 Ellis Avenue, Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Telephone (714) 378-3200 Fax (714) 378-3373 Web Page www.ocwd.com
ORANGE COUNTY WATER DISTRICT
Orange County’s Groundwater Authority
PHILIP L. ANTHONY
First Vice President
KATHRYN L. BARR
Second Vice President
PHILIP L. ANTHONY
KATHRYN L. BARR
DENIS R. BILODEAU
STEPHEN R. SHELDON
ROGER C. YOH
U.S. BUREAU OF RECLAMATION
REUSE AND RECYCLING PROGRAM
(TITLE XVI OF P.L. 102-575)
HONORABLE LISA MURKOWSKI
SUBCOMMITTEE ON WATER AND POWER
COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
UNITED STATES SENATE
MS. VIRGINIA GREBBIEN
ORANGE COUNTY WATER DISTRICT
ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
February 28, 2006
Good afternoon Chairwoman Murkowski and members of the subcommittee.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the Bureau of Reclamations’
Title XVI Program. I am Virginia Grebbien and I appear before you as the
General Manager of the Orange County Water District located in Orange County,
California and on behalf of our Board of directors. I will summarize my remarks
and would request that my formal testimony as well as background information
on OCWD be included in the hearing record. OCWD was formed in 1933 and
today is responsible for managing and protecting the vast groundwater basin
under north and central Orange County. The groundwater basin provides about
two-thirds of the water supply for 2.3 million people in our region which includes
the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley,
Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Irvine, La Palma,
Los Alamitos, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa
Park, Westminster, and Yorba Linda.
I am pleased to appear before you today to review the development status of
recycled water projects and the important role the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Title XVI program has played and must continue to play in the future. In
Southern California we realize that the future of water reliability lies in the ability
to supplement our imported water supplies with local water supply development
such as recycled water. It is important to note that this priority involves multiple
uses such as irrigation, industrial and indirect potable reuse.
I have a long history with the Title XVI Program. I first testified in support of Title
XVI in 1992 when the Program was originally authorized. In 1996 Congress
amended the law. The changes included a “cap” of 25% on eligible project costs.
I was part of the WateReuse Association Task Force that helped initiate this and
other changes. As a public official, I have managed the planning, design and
construction of three Title XVI projects. I have also been involved in the
institutional development of numerous others. The Title XVI Program has
successfully helped develop 30 recycled water projects. I would note that this
subcommittee has been a major reason behind the program’s success. I would
also note that full committee Chairman, Senator Pete Domenici has been a key
reason that we have enjoyed continued funding of Title XVI programs despite
efforts by the past two Administrations to reduce the federal role. We deeply
appreciate Senator Domenici’s commitment to ensure that we have a solid
Despite the fact that the Title XVI Program enjoys tremendous support from the
Western and Sunbelt states and despite the fact that the Title XVI Program is
over subscribed, we are being asked, again, some important and fundamental
questions that I hope will guide us in developing an improved water recycling
partnership with the federal government. These are:
• Does the Title XVI Program work?
• Does it provide value?
• Does it actually create new water?
• Is there a legitimate federal role?
• Should the Title XVI Program be modified?
From my humble perspective as one of the pioneers of implementing the original
law, and an ardent supporter of recycled water, let me assure the subcommittee
that the Title XVI Program works. It provides value. And, it creates new water.
Given the economic vitality of the West (California alone is the 5th largest
economy in the world; makes up 13% of the nation’s GDP; and generates $1.4
trillion in gross state product) and the federal mandates that state and local
communities must meet to assure a clean and safe water supply, a legitimate
federal role does exist. Let’s be clear on one important point; the federal
assistance that is provided through Title XVI delivers benefits by reducing
borrowing costs, enhancing public acceptance of a project, and providing a
platform for the speedy transfer of innovative technologies that can be used
elsewhere in the nation.
Orange County Water District is currently constructing the Groundwater
Replenishment System. This visionary indirect potable reuse project will be
operational in the summer of 2007 and will produce 72,000 acre-feet per year
(enough water to meet the annual needs of 140,000 families) of new water for
the 2.3 million residents of Orange County. The Project uses state-of-the-art
treatment, monitoring and groundwater replenishment technology. This
technology is used to insure high quality water is produced from the project. All
aspects of the project are monitored to insure quality objectives are met and
maintained. The product water will be recharged into the Orange County
Groundwater Basin increasing the sustainable yield from the basin. The Project
not only provides direct benefits to the rate payers within our service area but it
provides regional benefits as well. Recycled water is a drought proof supply that
is available even in the driest years. Having recycled water available enables
OCWD to make conserved and imported water available to other Southern
California water agencies that are not as fortunate in their water supply portfolio
during dry years. In addition, to the extent local water supply can be created
than it relieves the pressure to import water from the Colorado River into the
Southern California Region.
The Groundwater Replenishment System would not have been successful
without federal buy-in and support. GWR is a reality today because both the
State of California and the federal government have chosen to financially
participate in this project. The federal role is critical because it provides a
mechanism for local elected officials and decision makers to deal with the
inherent risks when implementing a large scale recycled water project.
The total capital cost for the GWRS project is $487 million. The Title XVI grant of
$20 million has leveraged $80 million in State funds and $387 million in local rate
payer dollars. The federal cost share was critical as it provided a mechanism to
solicit State grant funds and importantly provided a level of political acceptability
and project legitimization that enabled our local decision makers to move forward
with the project.
What would have happened to the GWRS project without federal support? We
would not have as broad based community and political support for the project as
we currently enjoy. As we engage in outreach about the project we start with the
projects supporters; the federal government – they provide money and
technology transfer; the state of California – they provide money and regulatory
oversight; local government - they provide the majority of the money and the
local will to implement the project. All six of Orange County’s congressional
leaders support the GWRS project. California’s two United States Senators
support the GWRS project. That support is backed up by federal dollars. This is
the foundation upon which we have built community, environmental and business
support for the GWRS project. Unlike some recycled water projects which
unfortunately were built and then not operated due to lack of community support.
I have 100% confidence that the GWRS project will be successfully producing
recycled water next summer and the cornerstone of that confidence starts with a
small federal investment.
Federal involvement in Title XVI projects is warranted for several reasons. In
California we have a mandate to reduce our use of Colorado River water. In
Arizona and Nevada there is a similar mandate to responsibly use Colorado
River supplies. In Texas the Ogallala Aquifer and watershed supply shortages
are creating the need for recycled water supply development. In Florida there is
a critical groundwater supply shortage. In New Mexico water supplies are
extremely limited from the Rio Grande River and other local watersheds. The
common theme is that regional water supplies with direct federal involvement
must be augmented and enhanced through local water supply development of
The federal government has established significant mandates for ecosystem
maintenance and restoration. Fisheries, in stream flows, habitat development all
take water. Water that is typically being redirected from urban uses. At the
same time, our water demands are not decreasing and neither are our future
water supply projections. New water supplies that are environmentally
sustainable must be developed if we are to meet our ecosystem mandates.
Recycled water is one such supply. If the federal government is instrumental in
establishing these ecosystem mandates how can we question the need for
programs such as Title XVI that provide necessary funds to implement alternative
water supply development?
It is important for the federal government to play a role in research and
technology transfer. Large results can be gained at the local and regional levels
with relatively small investments from the federal government. No single local
water agency has the financial resources or expertise to research and investigate
membrane processes, brine concentration technologies, the health risks of
pharmaceuticals or alternative power technologies to name a few areas of
interest. However, the federal government has the capability to bring disparate
agencies together in cost sharing arrangements to jointly work on technology
improvements that will make recycled water development even more cost
effective and reliable. Again, a small federal investment leverages local dollars
and technical talent for significant water resources gains.
Over the last decade I have watched the Bureau of Reclamation’s struggle to
define its role in the Title XVI Program. Congress has continued to authorize
projects while the Administration has continued to decrease the overall funding
for Title XVI. This has created a “backlog” of unfunded projects. Some point to
this situation as proof that Title XVI is broken and needs fixing. I would instead
say this is proof of the value of Title XVI and what is needed is an expansion of
the program. A proposal has been floated that the federal government should
offer loan guarantees rather than grant funding. In my view this is a tool that
should be available along with other financing options. However, the suggestion
that this tool could replace the existing grant program is an ineffective idea. As a
local government agency, OCWD has access to a significant amount of tax free
credit. We have an AA+ credit rating and our average cost of debt is 4%. A loan
guarantee from the federal government will not provide political support or the
political will to implement recycled water projects like the current Title XXVI
program does. Similarly, a loan guarantee does not enhance a local government
agencies’ ability to raise capital.
What is missing from the Title XVI program is a comprehensive federal program
similar to the federal Drinking Water supply Program that sets standards for
federal support. This is an important point that I cannot emphasize enough. Title
XVI is an effective program. The federal partnership made it possible for projects
like GWR to get off the drawing board. However, a number of lessons have
been learned since its original passage in 1992. Water recycling as well as
desalination are foundations for our future public health, environmental and
economic well being. I would add that on the heels of last year’s natural
disasters, these projects also serve to safeguard against water supply
One of the important lessons that I take away from my years of working with Title
XVI is the fact that we are at stage where we need to implement a
comprehensive federal program of assistance to local agencies. This means that
we need to amend Title XVI to address issues including:
• Identifying the overall need for assistance on a project by project basis
among the states based on a bi-annual survey of need conducted by the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation based on State generated data.
• Establishing a series of criteria that would qualify a project for assistance
such as ensuring a project provides multiple benefits or will contribute to
other ongoing water conservation programs.
• Ensuring that any existing Title XVI project authorization is fully funded.
• Expanding Title XVI to advance the commercialization of promising
technologies that can reduce the cost of water production and/or increase
the safety and acceptance of recycled water by the public.
• Providing for a defined budget authorization to support a comprehensive
federal water recycling program that can create stability and predictably to
the management of this program need.
In closing I would like to reiterate that the Title XVI program is not broken. It is a
very valuable program that has facilitated the development of 600,000 afy of
recycled water supply capacity. Title XVI has produced projects such as GWRS.
The federal government’s investment of $20 million has leveraged $467 million in
state and local dollars. GWRS, a Title XVI project, will not only help to drought
proof Orange County by creating a new water supply, but it will also reduced
pressure on Colorado River supplies, it will facilitate technology improvements, it
enhances the science of groundwater monitoring and it provides opportunities for
technology transfer and research.
Again, it is an honor to appear before you today and review the important ways
that Title XVI has assisted OCWD’s efforts to ensure a safe and reliable water
supply and how we as a country should proceed into the future. Thank you.
Ms. Betsy Cody
Betsy A. Cody
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Congressional Research Service
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Subcommittee on Water and Power
February 28, 2006
The Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI Program:
Thank you Madame Chairman for the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee today. I have been asked to provide Members of the Subcommittee with background information on the Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI water reuse and reclamation program, as well as to highlight issues in its implementation. My testimony begins with a brief discussion of the broader context in which this program is being implemented, conflicts that have arisen in implementation, and fundamental issues facing the 109th Congress regarding the program’s future. As requested, my testimony also provides background on the Title XVI program, including its genesis, and where it stands today.
Context of Title XVI Implementation in 2006 Growing populations and changing values have increased demands on water supplies and river systems, resulting in water use and management conflicts throughout the country. These demands are particularly evident in the arid West, where population has increased dramatically since Title XVI was first authorized, and where climate variability makes managing water supplies especially challenging. In many western states, agricultural demands are often in direct conflict with urban demands, as well as with water demand for threatened and endangered species, recreation, and scenic enjoyment. Areas where these conflicts are especially prevalent are illustrated in a figure developed by the Department of the Interior to display potential areas of conflict over water resources, or “Hot-Spots” (see Appendix A). Further highlighting the population issue is a U.S. Geological Survey illustration showing recent population growth in the western states (see Appendix A).
Debate over western water resources revolves around the issue of how best to plan for and manage the use of this renewable, yet sometimes scarce and increasingly sought after, resource. Some observers advocate enhancing water supplies, such as through building new storage or diversion projects, expanding old ones, and funding water reclamation and reuse facilities. Others emphasize managing existing supplies more efficiently — through conservation and revision of policies that are seen as encouraging inefficient water use, such as using market mechanisms or providing better price signals, which theoretically would result in more efficient water use. In practice, all of these tools are used by western water managers to varying degrees; and all have been addressed by Congress, again to varying degrees.
To address some of the growing challenges in western water management in the early 1990s, Congress directed the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to establish a federal water reclamation, recycling and reuse program (Title XVI of P.L. 102-575; 43 U.S.C. §390h). Under the Title XVI program, the Secretary is directed to “investigate and identify” opportunities for water reclamation and reuse in the West, for design and construction of “demonstration and permanent facilities to reclaim and reuse wastewater, and to conduct research, including desalting, for the reclamation of wastewater and naturally impaired ground and surface waters” (43 U.S.C. §390h(a)).
Today, the Title XVI program seems to be at a cross-road. The program has been controversial in recent years because of concerns over its implementation. As reuse and desalination have become more viable options for addressing a variety of water management issues, the number of legislative proposals for Title XVI project authorizations has increased. At the same time, Administration support for the program has encountered many changes — from full support prior to enactment of Title XVI in 1992 — to the present, where the Administration has found it cannot support much of the proposed legislation to authorize new projects. Also during this time, congressional authorization of new projects has been significantly less than demand. This situation has created frustration and confusion over the existing program, its future, and to some degree, the future role of the Bureau of Reclamation in the rapidly growing West. Frustration is especially apparent among project sponsors whose authorized projects remain unfunded or receive limited funding, and sponsors of pending project proposals, resulting in increased pressure on Congress and the Administration to address program issues.
Title XVI Overview The Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI program is the only active federal program providing localities with financial and technical assistance for the development and construction of facilities for the reuse of wastewater and reclamation (including desalination) of impaired surface and ground waters. Although both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA have limited authorities to provide assistance to local entities for recycling projects (e.g., specific provisions in 1992 and 1999 Water Resources Development Acts, a pilot program by EPA under the Alternative Water Sources Act, and general Clean Water Act water treatment and wastewater authorities), neither has an established, regularly funded program dedicated to such activities. However, in its review of federal agency programs, CEQ found that “a broad range of federal agency program activities employ water reuse, recycling, and reclamation technologies to achieve conservation and other program objectives.”
In 1992, Congress directed the Secretary to establish a program to investigate and identify opportunities for wastewater reuse and reclamation of naturally impaired ground and surface waters in the 17 western states (Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act, Title XVI of P.L. 102-575; 43 U.S.C. §390h(a)). Responsibility for undertaking the new program — commonly referred to as the Title XVI program — was assigned to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). As part of the original authorizing statute, the Secretary is directed to undertake appraisal investigations to identify opportunities for water reclamation and reuse, and is authorized to participate with federal, state, regional, and local authorities in developing feasibility studies.
The genesis for Reclamation’s wastewater reclamation, recycling, and reuse program was a 6-year western drought of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The drought hit California and the Southwest particularly hard. In response, this subcommittee and its House counterpart, the House Resources Water and Power Subcommittee, spent much time debating federal water supply policies, including how to address conflicts between the need and desire for continued operation of federal reclamation projects and the application of state and federal environmental laws that could potentially limit water deliveries to protect certain species or to comply with water quality standards. The result of several years’ effort in addressing this conflict was the Reclamation Projects Authorization and Adjustment Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-575). While much attention has been paid to Title XXXIV of this Act (the Central Valley Project Improvement Act), Title XVI, the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Studies and Facilities Act, authorized construction of five specific water reuse and reclamation projects in Arizona and California and established what is known as the Title XVI program. The Act also authorized a comprehensive reuse study for Southern California, including Colorado River hydrologic regions. The latter provides specific statutory authority for activities that were underway in 1991 in response to then-Secretary Manuel Lujan’s announcement of a “Comprehensive Water Reuse Initiative” for Southern California and speaks to what was perceived to be an important federal interest in the management of the Colorado River.
In addition to increasing the water supplies available to the area [southern California], this program would also decrease the area’s dependency on water imports from the Colorado River, California, and Los Angeles Aqueducts, help restore and protect the quality of existing ground-water reserves, and help meet environmental water needs. Lujan said ... “Reclaimed water — one of the most dependable, abundant and underutilized water supplies available — could provide as much as 2 million acre-feet of water each year for the area.”
The completion and submission of this study and whether or not it is a “feasibility study” has a long history and has remained a point of contention among southern California stakeholders and Reclamation to this day. In sum, this large undertaking (capable of producing 450,000 acre-feet of water annually), which is directly linked to the Title XVI program’s creation, became caught up in apparent shifts in Administration policy on, and congressional oversight of, the Title XVI program.
Title XVI Today
Title XVI has been amended multiple times since 1992, resulting in a total of 31 currently authorized projects in 8 western states and Hawaii (see Table 1). To date, Reclamation has undertaken planning, design, and/or engineering activities for 21 projects. Although the program includes projects for both water reuse and desalination of saline water (both brackish groundwater and seawater), the majority of Title XVI projects have been authorized for reclamation of municipal wastewater.
Nearly half of the projects are concentrated in southern California. This concentration reflects the direction of the program as first authorized. Most of the largest projects were authorized in 1992, before federal contributions were capped.
Project Funding. The federal share of project costs under Title XVI is limited to 25% of total project costs. Amendments in 1996 (P.L. 104-266) authorized numerous new projects, and added new program guidance. Specifically, the amendments retained the 25%/75% federal/non-federal cost share, but limited the federal share of costs to no more than $20 million per project.
Reclamation has completed its funding obligations for three projects: 1) the Los Angeles (CA) area water reclamation and reuse project; 2) the Tooele (UT) wastewater treatment and reuse project; and 3) the Port Hueneme (CA) Desalination project. Title XVI funding obligations are nearly complete (80% or more complete) for several other projects: San Gabriel Demonstration (CA); North San Diego County (CA); Orange County Regional (CA); Mission Basin Desalination (CA); Albuquerque Metropolitan (NM); and the City of El Paso (TX). Projects authorized prior to the 1996 amendments ranged in total costs from $152 million ($38 million for Reclamation’s share), to $690 million ($172 million for Reclamation’s share). Post-1996 projects have been much less expensive, ranging from $10 million ($2 million for Reclamation’s share) to $280 million ($20 million for Reclamation’s share).
Total Title XVI funding through 2006 is estimated by Reclamation to be $324.5 million. (See Table 1.) The remaining total federal contribution for all authorized projects is estimated to be at least $344 million. Non-federal Title XVI investment as of Sept. 30, 2004 is estimated to be $1.1 billion. Title XVI funding for FY2006 is$25.6 million; the budget request for FY2007 is $10.1 million.
Active and Inactive Projects. Projects have been authorized for construction in 9 states: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington. These states represent many of the states that are especially active in reuse, but not all; two very active states, Florida and Colorado, do not have Title XVI projects. Florida is not eligible for Title XVI support because it is not a designated as a “reclamation state,” as defined by the Reclamation Act of 1902, as amended (43 U.S.C. 391).
More than two-thirds of the 31 Title XVI projects have received some Title XVI funding. The 10 authorized projects that have not yet received funding from Reclamation, or received minor amounts, have been deemed “inactive” largely for accounting purposes. Projects shown in italics in Table 1 have not yet received Title XVI funding (with the exception of the Oregon project). Of these 10 projects, CRS has determined that at least 6 are, in some manner, moving forward with local funding.
A total capacity of nearly 800,000 acre-feet of water is slated to be reclaimed by the projects that have received Title XVI funding and for which CRS was able to acquire data (see Table 1). Reclamation estimates that the amount of water to be reclaimed (maximum design capacity) from its active projects is nearly 750,000 acre-feet. The 50,000 acre-foot difference between these estimates represents the total reclaimed water potential of 6 inactive projects for which CRS gathered estimates from project sponsors or project websites. The potential of all inactive projects would necessarily be somewhat higher.
Title XVI Policy Issues Title XVI policy issues generally fall into two categories: broad policy issues, such as the federal role in water supply development (particularly for municipal and industrial (M&I) purposes); and more specific project evaluation and authorization issues.
Broad Policy Issues
Historically, federal water resource agencies’ involvement in water supply was limited to developing irrigation projects and multiple use projects. Unlike other areas of water resources management in which the federal role is more prominent (e.g., irrigation, flood damage reduction, and navigation; or providing funding for wastewater and drinking water treatment through federal revolving loan programs), the federal role in water supply development for M&I uses has been secondary to the primary role of state and local governments. Water supply development for M&I purposes largely has generally been incidental to the primary project purposes of large, multi-purpose irrigation, flood reduction, hydro power, and navigation projects, pursuant to congressional policy established in the Water Supply Act of 1958.
While occasional congressional directives have deviated from this policy (including Title XVI), as a general matter, local, regional, or state agencies have been responsible for water supply development, and they have been wary of federal involvement in allocating water.
In recent years, the Administration has maintained that some Title XVI activities (other than research) are not a “core function” for Reclamation and that the Title XVI program “serves a function that is a local responsibility.” However, over the last two decades, Congress has increasingly, and incrementally, authorized the Department of the Interior to participate in construction of approximately 13 water supply projects for small and rural communities, as well as recycling and reuse projects under Title XIV. Although Congress has increasingly passed bills for site specific projects and established the Title XVI program, it has not re-articulated congressional policy regarding the federal role in water supply development since the 1958 Water Supply Act.
Project Evaluation, Authorization, and Funding Issues
Recent questions and concerns about the implementation of Reclamation’s Title XVI program appear to have increased in part because of the nature of project evaluation and authorization processes and the lack of a clear program funding process that is typical of other federal water programs. Other federal water assistance programs, such as state revolving loan funds for wastewater and drinking water administered by EPA, have set criteria and competitive processes for project and funding, as do rural water supply programs administered by the USDA. Congress appropriates money annually for these programs; however, project funding is not appropriated by line item, as is the case for Reclamation projects. Instead, depending on the program, states or federal agencies allocate program funding based on program and project eligibility criteria.
Program Criteria and Project Evaluation
In contrast to several other federal water programs , there are no legislatively mandated or promulgated development criteria and no competitive grant processes for Title XVI projects. Sections 1603 and 1604 of Title XVI (43 U.S.C. §390h-1(a)-(c) and 43 U.S.C. §390h-2(a)-(c)) establish a project evaluation process, which directs the Secretary to undertake appraisal investigations before preparation of feasibility studies on potential reclamation and reuse measures and lists several “considerations” that must be addressed; however, the Act does not include clear program criteria, such as how to prioritize projects, or qualified eligibility criteria.
To implement the program, Reclamation developed guidelines for the development of Title XVI projects. These guidelines provide more explicit evaluation and feasibility criteria than is provided in the statute. OMB in the past has noted Reclamation’s Title XVI guidelines provide “solid criteria ... to evaluate potential projects prior to funding, and also to monitor and evaluate projects under construction.” These guidelines have never been officially promulgated as official rules or regulations; nor do the guidelines criteria appear to be binding.
Another issue relates to the project authorization process. Reclamation has interpreted the Title XVI authorization as requiring congressional authorization for each project, as is the case for traditional Reclamation projects. Under the evaluation process established in P.L. 102-575, as amended, and implemented by Reclamation, projects are to go through an appraisal phase, a feasibility phase, and receive a feasibility recommendation. Positive recommendations would then be forwarded to Congress for construction approval via a specific project authorization. Authorized projects would then be funded (or not) via the annual Energy and Water Development appropriations bill. However, in practice, many projects authorizations, and pending legislative proposals, are for projects that have not gone through the project evaluation phase outlined in Title XVI. It has generally been Reclamation policy to not support projects that have not gone through the evaluation phase and received a positive feasibility recommendation. At the same time, some projects have undergone what sponsors believe to be extensive evaluation and what they believed was a feasibility-level process. This has resulted in project sponsors’ frustration by the experience, and has resulted in them coming directly to Congress for authorization. Other projects appear to have been authorized by Congress without assessment or feasibility evaluation by Reclamation.
Project Funding Issues
Funding for Title XVI projects has been controversial in recent years because of differences in congressional and administration priorities. For example, Reclamation has limited its budget request to projects that have received prior federal funding, while Congress has provided substantially more funding for projects via the annual appropriations process. The budget request for the last 3 years has been 40% - 67% less than the enacted appropriation for each of the last 3 years. The Administration’s request of $10.1 million for Title XVI projects for FY2007 is 40% less than the FY2006 enacted appropriation of $25.6 million.
While there is approximately $1 million-to-$3 million devoted to program management each year, there is no overall program funding per se. Instead, each project is authorized by a separate line item in Reclamation’s Water and Related Resources budget account. The Senate Committee on Appropriations noted, in report language accompanying FY1998 Energy and Water Development Appropriations, its concern about the potential costs of this program and noted that local sponsors who proceed on their own prior to a federal commitment to the project “do so at their own risk” (S.Rept. 105-44). The Committee also noted its support of Reclamation’s efforts to develop criteria to prioritize the authorized projects currently awaiting funding.
The above issues raise several questions. Is new or revised program guidance needed, via a formal rule-making process, congressional action, or both? Would new or revised guidance forestall the issue of projects being authorized by Congress prior to undergoing the Title XVI project evaluation process, or would it would help to alleviate funding issues and controversy over differing administrative and congressional budget priorities?
Where to go from Here?Questions for the 109th Congress
Growing pressure on water supplies in the West make it likely that the demand for Title XVI projects and requests for federal assistance, and hence pressure on Congress to approve more projects, will increase. At the same time, the potential for future requests to escalate and create an entirely new class of water supply assistance appears to have increased congressional and administrative concern over the implementation and authorization of new Title XVI projects. Under the current process, the potential result is an ever-growing list of pending Title XVI legislative proposals, and for those gaining congressional approval, a growing list of projects competing for limited appropriations and administration support. Currently, almost a third of the 31 authorized projects are unfunded — a “backlog” the Administration has cited as reason to oppose new authorizations — and 16 additional project authorizations are pending before the 109th Congress.
Thus, the 109th Congress is faced with the question of what should be the future of the Title XVI program?
Fundamental to deciding the future of the program are underlying questions related to the federal role in municipal water recycling specifically, and perhaps municipal water supply more generally. The broader policy issues raised in the implementation of Reclamation’s Title XVI program (particularly whether wastewater reuse and reclamation are local responsibilities or important to Reclamation’s core functions), touch on several policy issues not unique to the Title XVI program. First, they highlight the tension between congressional and Administration priorities. Second, they raise questions regarding the appropriate federal role in water supply development for M&I uses. For example, is Congress redefining the federal government’s role in M&I water supply and treatment as it authorizes new site-specific projects? If not, can or should such changes be made explicit through the kind of debate on implementation that is currently occurring, or through legislation?
To what degree should the federal government provide incentives for water supply development via new technologies, and what geographic, regional, or social factors should be considered if it does so? Lastly, is additional coordination or realignment of certain federal water activities needed to ensure efficient use of scarce federal resources? One or more of the options could be used to address many of the issues associated with these questions.
If Congress decides to affirm a federal role for water reuse in the West, a different set of questions arises: How does promoting or facilitating reuse in the West facilitate other federal goals, objectives, and legal obligations? How could the Title XVI program mesh with other federal activities (e.g., Interior’s Water 2025 challenge grant initiative or CALFED water reuse and storage activities)? Should the program be tied to alleviating demand or reducing existing diversions where endangered species or other fish and wildlife concerns are at issue? Should it be used to help communities drought-proof their supplies, or to slow pressure on agricultural water supplies by possibly slowing conversion of “ag-to-urban” water transfers? Will promotion of recycling and reclamation simply encourage more growth in already water scarce areas? These questions are just a few that have been raised by interested parties in the course of discussing the future of the Title XVI program.
In conclusion, a wide range of options appears to be available for addressing the Title XVI implementation issues addressed above. Legislative options range from dismantling or phasing out the Title XVI program, to strengthening the program, and could include many less drastic adjustments, such as providing Reclamation with clearer direction on why it should carry out these activities. Administrative options could potentially be pursued as well, such as strengthening agency guidelines or developing formal rules or regulations. While there is no silver bullet option likely to be supported by all stakeholders, examining these questions may help clarify differing perspectives on the appropriate federal role in reuse, define goals of federal participation in reuse, and understand the extent of problems with the existing program.
This concludes my testimony. I will be happy to answer questions from the Chairman and other Members of the Subcommittee. Thank you.