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Calendar No. 266
109th Congress Report
1st Session 109-165
LITTLE BUTTE/BEAR CREEK SUBBASINS WATER FEASIBILITY ACT
October 27, 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. 251]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 251) to authorize the Secretary of the
Interior, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation, to conduct
a water resource feasibility study for the Little Butte/Bear
Creek Subbasins in Oregon, having considered the same, reports
favorably thereon with amendments and recommends that the bill,
as amended, do pass.
The amendments are as follows:
1. On page 2, line 2, strike ``conduct'' and insert
2. On page 2, strike lines 9 through 11 and insert the
``(c) Authorization of Appropriations.--
``(1) In general.--There is authorized to be
appropriated to the Bureau of Reclamation $500,000 to
carry out activities under this Act.
``(2) Non-federal share.--
``(A) In general.--The non-Federal share
shall be 50 percent of the total costs of the
Bureau of Reclamation in carrying out
``(B) Form.--The non-Federal share required
under subparagraph (A) may be in the form of
any in-kind services that the Secretary of the
Interior determines would contribute
substantially toward the conduct and completion
of the study and environmental impact statement
required under subsection (b).''.
PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE
The purpose of S. 251 is to authorize the Secretary of the
Interior, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau), to
conduct a water resource feasibility study for the Little
Butte/Bear Creek Subbasins in Oregon.
BACKGROUND AND NEED
The Water for Irrigation, Streams, and the Economy (WISE)
Project is a proposed water management project designed to
improve the Little Butte and Bear Creek watersheds within
Jackson County in southern Oregon. Little Butte Creek and Bear
Creek are tributaries of the Rogue River. Little Butte Creek
has been designated as spawning habitat for Coho salmon, listed
as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and the Bear
Creek Valley supports over 34,000 acres of agricultural land.
Nineteen agricultural, municipal, environmental, and water
resource agencies and groups comprise the WISE Project Advisory
The water management feasibility study and environmental
impact statement (EIS) authorized by S. 251 is to be conducted
in accordance with a July 2, 2004, Memorandum of Agreement
(MOA) between the Bureau and the City of Medford, Oregon. PAC
members are also signatories to the MOA. The MOA identifies the
roles of the parties in the development and preparation of
technical studies for the WISE Project. The feasibility study
and EIS will evaluate integrated water resource management and
supply needs in the Little Butte/Bear Creek Subbasins and will
seek to identify ways to improve stream flows and water
quality. The work will also explore opportunities for
conservation, improved irrigation system efficiencies, and
wastewater reclamation within the Talent, Rogue River, and
Medford Irrigation Districts.
S. 251 was introduced by Senators Smith and Wyden on
February 1, 2005, and referred to the Committee on Energy and
Natural Resources. The Water and Power Subcommittee held a
hearing on S. 251 on April 19, 2005 (S. Hrg. 109-96). At the
business meeting on September 28, 2005, the Committee on Energy
and Natural Resources ordered S. 251 favorably reported, with
In the 108th Congress, Senators Smith and Wyden introduced
S. 2958, identical legislation to the measure now under
consideration, but the bill was not taken up. H.R. 3210,
companion legislation to S. 2958, passed the House on September
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on September 28, 2005, by unanimous vote of a
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 251, if
amended as described herein.
Two amendments were adopted to add a local cost-share
Section 1(a) sets forth the short title.
Subsection (b) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior,
acting through the Bureau of Reclamation, to participate in the
Water for Irrigation, Streams and the Economy Project water
management feasibility study and the environmental impact
statement. Such work is to be conducted in accordance with the
July 2, 2004 Memorandum of Agreement between the Bureau and the
City of Medford.
Subsection (c)(1) authorizes $500,000 for the Bureau's
Subsection (c)(2)(A) requires the non-Federal cost-share to
be 50% of the Bureau's costs.
Subsection (c)(2)(B) allows the 50% non-Federal cost-share
to be in the form of in-kind services, as long as the Secretary
of the Interior determines that such in-kind services would
substantially contribute to the feasibility study and the
environmental impact statement at issue.
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The following estimate of costs of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office.
S. 251--Little Butte/Bear Creek Subbasins Water Feasibility Act
S. 251 would authorize the Bureau of Reclamation to
participate in a water management feasibility study of the
Little Butte and Bear Creek watersheds in Medford, Oregon. The
study would identify ways to meet future water supply needs and
to improve water quality, as well as water conservation and
storage measures. S. 251 would authorize the appropriation of
$500,000 for this study.
Assuming appropriation of the specified amounts, CBO
estimates that implementing S. 251 would cost $500,000 in 2006.
Enacting S. 251 would not affect direct spending or revenues.
S. 251 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Rachel Milberg.
This estimate was 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. 251.
The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of
imposing Government-established standards or significant
economic responsibilities on private individuals and
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of S. 251, as ordered reported.
The testimony provided by the Department of the Interior at
the Subcommittee hearing on S. 251 follows:
Statement of William Rinne, Deputy Commissioner of Reclamation, U.S.
Department of the Interior
Madam Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am
William Rinne, Deputy Commissioner of Reclamation. Thank you
for the opportunity to testify on S. 251.
This legislation would authorize the Bureau of Reclamation
to conduct a water resource feasibility study in the Bear
Creek/Little Butte Creek sub-basins of the Rogue River in
southwestern Oregon, and to prepare an environmental impact
statement provided for in the Act. The study would investigate
opportunities to implement water conservation measures within
the three irrigation districts (Talent, Rogue River and Medford
IDs) served by Reclamation's Rogue River Project, and to
increase water supplies, including use of reclaimed water from
the City of Medford and modifications to existing storage
facilities. Because alternatives being studied would impact the
facilities and operations of the Rogue River Project,
Reclamation must be involved in the effort.
It is Reclamation's understanding that a broad range of
stakeholders has come together to achieve consensus on project
goals and gain community support. The primary goals are to: 1)
solve the sewage and storm water discharge problems of the City
of Medford; 2) increase instream flows in Little Butte Creek
and Bear Creek for threatened coho salmon; and 3) improve
irrigation efficiency within the three irrigation districts.
The project would improve the long-term viability of the three
irrigation districts. The Bureau of Reclamation has cooperated
with this local collaborative effort to proactively address
water resource issues that could become contentious in the
Partial funding for this study has been obtained by the
City of Medford via a grant administered by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency. The grant is being used to
fund a contractor to initiate technical studies. The local
study partners believe they will be able to obtain additional
funding to complete the technical studies required to meet
Reclamation's standards for water resources planning.
Appropriated funds would be needed to cover Reclamation staff
costs to review and revise as necessary the contractor's
technical work, undertake Endangered Species Act consultations
with other Federal agencies, and publish the notices and
documents required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The administration cannot support S. 251 at this time. The
legislation does not require at least 50% non-federal cost
share for the feasibility study, as is required by Reclamation
policy. Federal funds obtained by Medford through other
agencies would not qualify for the cost-share requirement.
This concludes my statement. I will be glad to answer any
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. 251, as ordered