“A Positive Path Forward”
WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) participated in an oversight hearing at the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans titled, "The State of the Nation’s Water and Power Infrastructure." This week, the Trump administration released its infrastructure plan, which included a Department of Interior proposal to expedite the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) title transfer process. Rep. Newhouse’s Q&A with Charles Freeman, District Manager of Kennewick Irrigation District (KID) in Kennewick, WA, focused on the proposal, as well as additional proposals that could create a path forward for local water users like KID to take control of their operations.
Excerpts from Q&A:
Rep. Newhouse: “All of us know that earlier this week, the Trump Administration released its infrastructure plan, which included in it an Interior proposal to expedite the Bureau of Reclamation’s title transfer process. And I just want to say that I for one want to see this proposal and similar proposals like the one that Chairman Lamborn has put forward as really a positive path forward for local water users like the KID - at least I hope you see that in your estimation as well – to really take control of their operations and be able to get some relief from a broken federal bureaucracy.”
Rep. Newhouse continued: “I have been an advocate and continue to be for streamlined water projects and that development process that was created for the Army Corps of Engineers – it was in 2014 through the [Water Resources Reform and Development Act] bill – I think would be a good idea to be adopt for the Bureau of Reclamation as well. Members on both sides of the aisle supported that concept, yet some of my colleagues continue to argue that the Reclamation projects don’t merit the same kind of streamlining.”
Rep. Newhouse and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) have introduced H.R. 4419, Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Indian Affairs Water Project Streamlining Act of 2017, to streamline the Bureau of Reclamation’s and Bureau of Indian Affairs’ environmental planning and study process for new water projects and to authorize the next phase of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan. The bill would apply the same streamlined water project development process used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under the Water Resources Reform Development Act of 2014 to the Bureau of Reclamation and to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in order to facilitate the construction of new or expanded surface water, storage, infrastructure, and recycling projects. H.R. 4419 broadens the legislation to include additional surface water storage projects, water infrastructure projects, rural water projects, water recycling, and Title XVI water projects. The legislation authorizes Phase III of the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan, an initiative to better accommodate the water needs of the agricultural community, conservationists, residents, and other stakeholders in the Yakima River Basin region.
The U.S. Department of the Interior recently transmitted a proposal to Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act. The proposal mirrors language of H.R. 3281, the “Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act,” introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), which was included in the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan. H.R. 3281 streamlines the process of transferring select BOR projects or facilities to local water users in order to incentivize new non-federal investment in water infrastructure and afford more efficient management of water and water-related facilities.