Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?
                                                        Calendar No. 27
109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                     109-16

======================================================================
 
                NEW MEXICO WATER PLANNING ASSISTANCE ACT

                                _______
                                

                 March 7, 2005.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Domenici, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T 

                         [To accompany S. 178]

    [Including the cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 178) to provide assistance to the State 
of New Mexico for the development of comprehensive State water 
plans, and for other purposes, having considered the same, 
reports favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that 
the bill do pass.

                         PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE

    The purpose of S. 178 is to provide assistance to the State 
of New Mexico for the development of comprehensive State water 
plans, and for other purposes.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    The New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (NM OSE) is 
statutorily required to perform assessments and investigations 
of the numerous stream systems and ground water basins located 
within New Mexico. In order to perform these assessments, it is 
necessary for the NM OSE to undertake hydrographic surveys and 
develop hydrologic models. These assessments assist Federal 
agencies by providing fundamental information on hydrologic 
conditions important for flood assessment, land management, 
Tribal water resources assessments and Federal water project 
management. The NM OSE lacks adequate resources to perform 
necessary hydrologic models and data collection. This lack of 
resources impairs the NM OSE's ability to make informed 
decisions about the state's water resources, participate in 
state-Federal water management decisions, effectively perform 
water rights administration, and comply with New Mexico's 
compact deliveries.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. 178 was introduced on January 26, 2005, by Senator 
Domenici for himself and Senator Bingaman and referred to the 
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. No hearings were 
held on the measure. At the business meeting on February 9, 
2005, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 
178 favorably reported.
    During the 108th Congress, a similar measure, S. 2460 was 
introduced by Senator Domenici on May 20, 2004 and referred to 
the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Senator Bingaman 
was a co-sponsor. The Subcommittee on Water and Power held a 
hearing on S. 2460 on June 17, 2004. S. Hrg. 108-668. The 
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 2460, as 
amended, favorably reported on July 14, 2004. S. 2460 passed 
the Senate by unanimous consent on September 15, 2004. S. Rept. 
108-326.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in an 
open business meeting on February 9, 2004, by unanimous voice 
vote of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 
178.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 provides the short title, the ``New Mexico Water 
Planning Assistance Act.''
    Section 2 defines the terms used in the Act.
    Section 3 subsection (a) directs the Secretary, upon the 
request of the Governor of New Mexico, to provide technical 
assistance and grants for the development of State water plans, 
conduct water resources mapping in the State, and conduct a 
study of groundwater resources.
    Subsection (b) specifies what technical assistance the 
Secretary may provide.
    Subsection (c) allocates grants among projects.
    Subsection (d) provides that the non-Federal cost share 
shall be 50 percent, the non-Federal share may be in the form 
of any in-kind services, the grants provided to the State shall 
be made on a non-reimbursable basis, and the Secretary shall 
transfer any amount made available under the Act to one or more 
Federal agencies upon request of the State.
    Section 4 authorizes to be appropriated $3,000,000 for each 
fiscal year 2006 through 2010 to carry out the Act.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

    The following estimate of costs of this measure has been 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:

                                                 February 11, 2005.
Hon. Pete V. Domenici,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 178, the New Mexico 
Water Planning Assistance Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Julie 
Middleton.
            Sincerely,
                                               Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
    Enclosure.

S. 178--New Mexico Water Planning Assistance Act

    Summary: S. 178 would authorize the Secretary of the 
Interior acting through the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. 
Geological Survey to provide technical assistance and grants to 
the state of New Mexico for developing comprehensive water 
plans, conducting water resources mapping, and implementing a 
study of groundwater resources (including potable, brackish, 
and saline water resources). The bill would authorize the 
appropriation of $3 million annually over the 2005-2010 period 
for technical assistance and grants. S. 178 would require 
nonfederal grantees to pay 50 percent of total project costs.
    Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO 
estimates that implementing the bill would cost about $14 
million over the 2006-2010 period, and an additional $1 million 
after that period. Enacting S. 178 would not affect direct 
spending or revenues.
    S. 178 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
governments. Federal spending authorized by this bill would 
benefit the State of New Mexico, and any expenditures made by 
the State to satisfy the bill's matching requirement would be 
made voluntarily.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of S. 178 is shown in the following table. The 
costs of this legislation fall within budget function 300 
(natural resources and environment). For this estimate, CBO 
assumes that S. 178 will be enacted near the end of 2005. Based 
on historical spending patterns of similar projects, CBO 
estimates that implementing this bill would cost $14 million 
over the 2006-2010 period, and an additional $1 million after 
that period.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     By fiscal year, in millions of dollars
                                                               -------------------------------------------------
                                                                  2006      2007      2008      2009      2010
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Authorization level...........................................         3         3         3         3         3
Estimated outlays.............................................         2         3         3         3         3
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 178 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or 
tribal governments. Federal spending authorized by this bill 
would benefit the State of New Mexico, and any expenditures 
made by the State to satisfy the bill's matching requirement 
would be made voluntarily.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Julie Middleton; 
impact on state, local, and tribal governments: Marjorie 
Miller; impact on the private sector: Patrice Gordon.
    Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                      REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out S. 178. The bill is not a regulatory measure in 
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or 
significant responsibilities on private individuals and 
businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
privacy.
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of S. 178.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The testimony provided by the Bureau of Reclamation at the 
Subcommittee hearing on S. 2460 in the 108th Congress follows:

  Statement of John W. Keys III, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation, 
                    U.S. Department of the Interior

    Madam Chair, my name is John W. Keys, III, Commissioner of 
Reclamation (Reclamation). I am pleased to be here today to 
present the views of the Department of the Interior 
(Department) regarding S. 2460, which would authorize 
assistance to be provided to the State of New Mexico for the 
development of comprehensive State water plans, and for other 
purposes.
    We share the views of the sponsor of this bill, Senator 
Domenici, that is, the importance of sound science for use by 
water resource planners. However, the Department is concerned 
about the financial resources that would be required for 
Reclamation and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to 
carry out S. 2460 in the context of the availability of 
resources overall for Administration programs. Further, the 
provision for any assistance or grants to be made on a non-
reimbursable basis and without a cost-sharing requirement is 
inconsistent with the funding arrangements that Reclamation and 
the USGS have for similar activities in other states. For these 
reasons, the Administration cannot support the bill as 
currently written.
    The bill directs the Secretary of the Interior, acting 
through Reclamation and the USGS, to (1) provide technical 
assistance and grants to the State for the development of 
comprehensive State water plans; (2) conduct water resources 
mapping in the State; and (3) conduct a comprehensive study of 
groundwater resources (including potable, brackish, and saline 
water resources) to assess the quantity, quality, and 
interaction of groundwater and surface water resources in the 
State. This would be accomplished through technical assistance 
and grants.
    The technical assistance role identified for the Department 
in this bill is consistent with the USGS's leadership role in 
interpretation, research, and assessment of the earth and 
biological resources of the nation. It is likewise consistent 
with the Reclamation's leadership role in water resources 
research, modeling, analysis, assessment and management. 
However, the direction to provide these grants to the State on 
a non-competitive basis is not in harmony with the 
Administration's efforts, such as through Water 2025, to use a 
competitive process to focus our existing resources in those 
areas where future water conflicts are most likely to occur. 
Even though some New Mexico projects would likely be very 
competitive in that process, the Administration would prefer 
that New Mexico's needs compete on an equal footing with other 
meritorious projects that apply for assistance. Let me briefly 
describe the activities of the USGS and Reclamation in this 
context.
    As the nation's largest water, earth, biological science, 
and civilian mapping agency, USGS conducts the most extensive 
groundwater and surface water investigations in the nation in 
conjunction with state and local partners. The USGS New Mexico 
District currently operates 209 streamflow stations and 
routinely measures groundwater levels at 1,658 well sites 
through cooperative programs with several local, state, tribal, 
and federal agencies. In addition to hydrologic monitoring 
programs, the USGS is providing hydrologic understanding to 
water agencies through the Cooperative Water Program by 
conducting several investigative projects that include 
describing the interaction of surface water and ground water in 
the Mesilla and Middle Rio Grande basins, evaluating modeling 
approaches in the Santa Fe Embayment and La Cienega areas of 
the Espanola Basin, and quantifying streamflow gains and losses 
in the Espanola Basin along the Rio Grande mainstem and its 
tributaries. In support of all water agencies within New 
Mexico, USGS technical specialists participate on work groups 
and committees each year. Currently, USGS personnel are 
involved in the New Mexico Brackish Water Task Force, the Rio 
Grande Environmental Assessment for Upper Rio Grande water 
operations, and the Department of the Interior's Southwest 
Strategy.
    Reclamation, as the nation's largest western water and 
hydro-electric power supplier and water management agency, 
conducts the most extensive river storage and delivery 
operations and related research in the seventeen western states 
in conjunction with tribal, state and local partners. 
Reclamation has provided technical and monetary assistance to 
two of the New Mexico state regional water plans, reviewed and 
commented on the draft State Water Plan, and provided water 
resource-related technical assistance through Reclamation's 
Technical Assistance to States planning program. In addition, 
Reclamation is actively involved in several Indian water supply 
projects within New Mexico, and has developed and maintains 
state-of-the-art, internet-delivered decision support data on 
evapotranspiration depletions to the Rio Grande system, and 
conducts daily river system modeling for water accounting, 
contracted deliveries and endangered species support.
    In summary, the goals of the bill are commendable, and the 
bill contains provisions that are within the scope and 
expertise of Reclamation and the USGS. However, it is the 
position of the Administration that funding for the activities 
in this bill be pursued through existing authorities and 
procedures, and not through specific Congressional direction 
that supersedes established processes, competitive or 
otherwise. Also, we believe that the cost-sharing provisions of 
this bill should conform to other similar programs undertaken 
by Reclamation and the USGS, such as Reclamation Title XVI 
program, which requires a 50 percent local share, or the USGS 
Cooperative Water Program, which requires a dollar for dollar 
match of federal and non-federal funds. Requiring these cost-
shares not only stretches limited federal funds, but also 
emphasizes that States are primarily responsible for managing 
the water resources within their borders, and not the Federal 
government. Finally, we find that S. 2460 is sufficiently vague 
regarding the relative roles and functions of Reclamation and 
the USGS, which could cause significant delay in 
implementation, as well as the fact that the bill, as written, 
duplicates some existing agency programs and authorizations and 
sets a major precedent of providing federal funding for State 
water plans.
    Thank you, Madam Chair, for the opportunity to present this 
testimony. I will be pleased to answer questions you and other 
Members of the Subcommittee might have.


                        changes in existing law


    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no 
changes in existing law are made by the bill S. 178, as ordered 
reported.