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Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)ChairmanSenate Energy & Natural Resources Committee
Good morning, everyone. The Committee will come to order. We’re meeting today to discuss senate bill 1694 which is the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project Phase III Act of 2015, sponsored by Senator Cantwell.
As we have discussed in this committee and as we’re just having a conversation about now drought conditions prevailing in the West including in the State of Washington, are significant.
For those of us from the Pacific Northwest or the North, it is quite unusual to be experiencing any level of drought. My hometown of Ketchikan in the Tongass rainforest is short on water stretching all the way down to Washington State and certainly we’ve had discussions in this committee about the situation down in California but it’s not just limited to the Pacific Northwest or to the coastal areas, it’s clearly west wide.
The legislation that we are going to discuss today presents an opportunity to build on the success of a significant example where water users, federal and state officials, and others are working to ensure the delivery of water where it is needed.
S. 1694 authorizes the first of three phases of the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resources Plan, and its goal is to ensure sufficient legal authority to achieve an integrated approach to water management for the Basin.
I will let Senator Cantwell describe her bill more fully, but before I turn to her, there are a couple things I would like us to keep in mind as we consider this.
First, in this bill and in any legislation that we consider, we need to evaluate and fully understand the financial commitment expected of our federal agencies. The federal government can play a role in addressing water supply needs, but we also need to know – upfront – what each bill would have us contribute.
Secondly, it’s critical that we have a good understanding of local support and any concerns that may exist, as well as to ensure that state and private involvement is maximized, both financially and in terms of decision making.
As I look at those who have come east today to speak to is, it looks like an excellent cross section of interests are represented. I appreciate that. I think that will bode well for the discussion that we will have this morning. To Senator Cantwell, thank you for your work on this and I’ll look forward to working with you on it.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)Ranking MemberSenate Energy & Natural Resources Committee
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Tom IsemanDeputy Assistant Secretary for Water and ScienceU.S. Department of the Interior
Mr. Derek SandisonDirector, Department of AgricultureState of Washington
Mr Urban EberhartFarmer and Manager, Kittitas Reclamation District
Mr. Michael GarrityDirectorRivers of Puget Sound and the Columbia Basin American Rivers
Mr. Phil RigdonSuperintendent, Department of Natural ResourcesYakama Nation