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                                                       Calendar No. 305
106th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                    106-175
======================================================================

 
               COLORADO RIVER BASIN SALINITY CONTROL ACT

                                _______
                                

                October 6, 1999.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

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

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1211]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 1211) to amend the Colorado River Basin 
Salinity Control Act to authorize additional measures to carry 
out the control of salinity upstream of Imperial Dam in a cost-
effective manner, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon with an amendment and recommends that the bill, as 
amended, do pass.
    The amendment is as follows:
    On page 2, after line 8, insert the following:

``SEC. 2. REPORT.

    ``The Secretary of the Interior shall prepare a report on 
the status of implementation of the comprehensive program for 
minimizing salt contributions to the Colorado River from lands 
administered by the Bureau of Land Management directed by Sec. 
203(b)(3) of the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act (43 
U.S.C. 1593). The report shall provide specific information on 
individual projects and funding allocation. The report shall be 
transmitted to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 
and the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives 
no later than June 30, 2000.''

                         Purpose of the Measure

    The purpose of S. 1211 is to amend the Colorado River Basin 
Salinity Control Act to authorize additional measures to carry 
out the control of salinity upstream of Imperial Dam in a cost-
effective manner.

                          Background and Need

    The Colorado River provides municipal and industrial water 
for more than 18 million people in seven States; it also 
provides irrigation water for about 2 million acres of land. 
Yet the salinity, or salt content, of the river is high, in 
large part because of natural features such as underlying salt 
formations and saline springs. Agriculture is also a large 
contributor of salt to the river, as irrigation water seeps 
through saline soils and returns to the river. Salinity in the 
Colorado River corrodes water pipes and damages crops.
    The 1944 Mexico Treaty obligates the United States to 
provide 1.5 million acre feet of water to Mexico, but does not 
address quality. Mexico filed a formal protest in the 1960's 
when salinity increased sharply. Several minutes to the Treaty 
were negotiated, the final one being Minute 242. The most 
important provision requires that the average annual salinity 
of the Colorado delivered upstream from Morelos Dam (Mexico's 
principal diversion dam) would not exceed the average salinity 
of the water arriving at Imperial Dam by more than 115 parts 
per million, plus or minus 30 ppm.
    To address salinity problems, and ensure the United States 
could meet its obligation to Mexico, the Congress passed the 
Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974. Title I 
addressed the Mexican obligation by authorizing the Yuma 
Desalting Plant, the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation drainage 
reduction program, concrete lining of the Coachella Canal in 
California (allowing the United States to use the conserved 
water to replace drainage water bypassed to Mexico), and a well 
field in Arizona known as the Protective and Regulatory Pumping 
Unit. Title II of the Act authorized the Secretary of the 
interior to construct several salinity control projects, most 
of which are located in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Amendments 
to the Act in 1984 authorized additional projects for the 
Bureau and authorized projects by the Bureau of Land Management 
and the Department of Agriculture. In addition, under the Clean 
Water Act, the EPA approved standards established by the states 
for salinity levels for the river water.
    In March 1993, the Inspector General issued an audit report 
on the salinity control program and made several 
recommendations. One recommendation was that the Bureau of Land 
Management become more aggressive in its actions, especially 
since BLM actions seemed to be most cost-effective. The report 
noted that BLM estimated that its lands contributed about 
700,000 tons of salt annually and that measures to control this 
salt loading would be in the rate of $35-$60 per ton, but that 
plans were designed only to remove 50,000 tons by the year 
2010. The estimate for the Grand Valley project, by comparison, 
is $147-$386 per ton.
    S. 1211 would authorize additional measures to carry out 
the control of the Colorado River's salinity, upstream of 
Imperial Dam. The bill amends the Act to reauthorize the 
funding of the competitive Basin-wide program for salinity and 
increases the authorization from $75 million to $175 million. 
Bill sponsors believe the increase in essential to maintaining 
Colorado River water quality standards for salinity adopted by 
the seven Colorado River Basin states and approved by the EPA. 
Maintenance of the standards would avoid costly salinity 
damage.

                          Legislative History

    S. 1211 was introduced by Senator Bennett on June 10, 1999 
and a Subcommittee hearing was held on July 28, 1999. At the 
business meeting on September 22, 1999, the Committee on Energy 
and Natural Resources ordered S. 1211, as amended, favorably 
reported.

           Committee Recommendations and Tabulation of Votes

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open 
business session on September 22, 1999, by a unanimous vote of 
a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 1211, if 
amended as described herein.

                          Committee Amendments

    During the consideration of S. 1211, the Committee adopted 
an amendment that requires the Secretary of the Interior to 
prepare a report on activities to minimize salt contributions 
to the Colorado River from BLM lands. BLM was required to 
develop a comprehensive plan for such activities by 1987, 
pursuant to the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act.

                         Summary of the Measure

    As reported, S. 1211 amends the Colorado River Basin 
Salinity Control Act to reauthorize and increase funding for 
competitive basin-wide programs to address salinity of the 
Colorado River upstream of Imperial Dam. The measure also 
requires the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a report on 
activities on BLM lands.

                   Cost and Budgetary Considerations

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

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                   Washington, DC, October 5, 1999.
Hon. Frank H. Murkowski,
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. 1211, a bill to 
amend the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act to 
authorize additional measures to carry out the control of 
salinity upstream of Imperial Dam in a cost-effective manner.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Mark 
Grabowicz (for federal costs), and Marjorie Miller (for the 
state and local impact).
            Sincerely,
                                          Barry B. Anderson
                                    (For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
    Enclosure.

S. 1211--A bill to amend the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act 
        to authorize additional measures to carry out the control of 
        salinity upstream of Imperial Dam in a cost-effective manner

    Summary: S. 1211 would authorize the appropriation of $175 
million for a program to control the salinity of the Colorado 
River upstream of the Imperial Dam. Under current law the 
Congress has authorized the appropriation of $75 million for 
this activity. The bill would direct the Secretary of the 
Interior to prepare a report by June 30, 2000, on the status of 
the comprehensive program for minimizing salt contributions to 
the Colorado River.
    Assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, CBO 
estimates that implementing S. 1211 would result in additional 
discretionary spending of about $6 million over the 2000-2004 
period. Enacting this legislation would not affect direct 
spending or receipts, so pay-as-you-go procedures would not 
apply. S. 1211 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). 
State and local governments might incur some costs to match the 
federal funds authorized by this bill, but these costs would be 
voluntary.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of S. 1211 is shown in the following table. Of 
the $75 million authorized under current law about $36 million 
has been appropriated through fiscal year 2000. Assuming that 
annual appropriations for this program continue near the 2000 
level of $12 million, as anticipated by the Department of the 
Interior, the balance of the $75 million authorization would 
not be exceeded until fiscal year 2000. Thus, CBO estimates 
that the additional $100 million authorized by S. 1211 would be 
appropriated in 2004 and in the following years. We estimate 
that the report required by the bill would cost less than 
$500,000 in fiscal year 2000. The costs of this legislation 
fall within budget function 300 (natural resources and 
environment).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      By fiscal years, in millions of dollars--
                                                                    --------------------------------------------
                                                                       2000     2001     2002     2003     2004
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
 
Spending Under Current Law:
    Budget Authority/Estimated Authorization Level \1\.............       12       12       12       12        2
    Estimated Outlays..............................................       12       12       12       12        6
Proposed Changes:
    Estimated Authorization Level..................................    (\2\)        0        0        0       10
    Estimated Outlays..............................................    (\2\)        0        0        0        6
Spending under S. 1211:
    Estimated Authorization Level \1\..............................       12       12       12       12       12
    Estimated Outlays..............................................       12       12       12       12       12
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The 2000 level is the amount appropriated in the Colorado River salinity control program for that year. The
  estimated levels for fiscal years 2001 though 2004 represent the use of the remaining authorization under
  current law.
\2\ Less than $500,000.

    Pay-as-you-go considerations: None.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 1211 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA. State and local governments might incur some 
costs to match the federal funds authorized by this bill, but 
these costs would be voluntary.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Mark Grabowicz. Impact 
on State, local, and tribal governments: Marjorie Miller.
    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. 1211. The bill is not a regulatory measure in 
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or 
significant economic 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. 1211, as ordered reported.

                        Executive Communications

    On July 19, 1999, the Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources requested legislative reports from the Department of 
the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget setting 
forth Executive agency recommendations on S. 1211. These 
reports had not been received at the time the report on S. 1211 
was filed. When the reports become available, the Chairman will 
request that they be printed in the Congressional Record for 
the advice of the Senate. The testimony provided by the 
Department of the Interior at the Subcommittee hearing follows:

    Statement of Steven Richardson, Chief of Staff, U.S. Bureau of 
                Reclamation, Department of the Interior

    I am Steve Richardson, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Bureau of 
Reclamation. I appreciate the opportunity to provide the 
Administration's views on S. 1211, the Colorado River Basin 
Salinity Control Reauthorization Act.
    In 1995, Congress established a pilot program authorizing 
the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to award up to $75 
million in grants, on a competitive-bid basis, for salinity 
control projects in the Colorado River Basin. The private 
sector and state and local governments responded promptly; the 
first project awards were made in 1997. Cost savings under this 
pilot program have far exceeded expectations--down to an 
average of $27 per ton of salt control, from the previous 
average of $76 per ton. S. 1211 would reauthorize this program 
and raise the authorization ceiling to $175 million, allowing 
this innovative and cost-effective program to continue for 
several years.
    The Department supports S. 1211, although we encourage 
Congress to consider increasing the local cost-share to reflect 
the significant local benefits created by this program. 
Reducing the salinity of the Colorado River as it moves 
downstream remains one of the most important challenges facing 
the Bureau of Reclamation. The Colorado River provides water 
for more than 23 million people and irrigation for more than 4 
million acres of land in the United States, as well as water 
for about 2.3 million people and 500,000 irrigated acres in the 
Republic of Mexico. Yet, the upper part of the river runs 
through a saline-soaked landscape of badlands and saline 
springs. As it moves downstream, the river picks up over 9 
million tons of salt. Salinity damages in the United States 
portion of the Colorado River Basin range between $500 million 
to $750 million per year and could exceed $1.5 billion per year 
if future increases are not controlled.
    Under the 1995 pilot program, new salinity control projects 
in the basin are built, owned, operated, and maintained by 
private, local, or state entities. Reclamation has now 
completed four rounds of public solicitations (requests for 
proposals), ranked the proposals based on their cost and 
performance risk factors, and awarded funds to the most highly 
ranked projects.
    One of the greatest advantages of this program comes from 
the integration of Reclamation's program with the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture's (USDA) program. Water conservation 
within irrigation projects on saline soils is the single most 
effective salinity control measure found in the past 30 years 
of investigations. By integrating the USDA's on-farm irrigation 
improvements with Reclamation's off-farm improvements, 
extremely high efficiencies can be obtained. For example, if 
the landscape permits, pressure from piped delivery systems 
(laterals) may be used to drive sprinkler irrigation systems at 
efficiency rates far better than those normally obtained by 
flood systems. In addition, this program allows Reclamation 
much greater flexibility (in both timing and funding) to work 
with the USDA to develop these types of projects.
    This program also allows Reclamation to take advantage of 
opportunities that are time sensitive. Cost sharing partners 
(states and federal agencies) often have funds available at 
very specific times. Under the old method of planning, 
authorization, funding, and construction, it would often take 
decades for Reclamation to be ready to proceed with a project. 
None of Reclamation's past projects were able to attract cost 
sharing because of this. For example, the Ashley Project (a 
joint effort by the state of Utah, the Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA), and Reclamation) will eliminate 9,000 tons per 
year of salt. Reclamation's salinity program is a relatively 
minor but important part of the Ashley Project ($3 million in 
an $18 million project). Once Reclamation had committed to fund 
its part of the project, funds were included in the EPA's 
budget by Congress to complete its role in the partnership.
    Another significant advantage of the program is that 
projects are ``owned'' by the proponent, not Reclamation. The 
proponent is responsible to perform on their proposal. Costs 
paid by Reclamation are controlled and limited by agreement. If 
unforseen cost overruns do occur, the proponent has several 
options: (1) the project may be terminated; (2) the proponent 
may choose to cover the overruns with their own funds; (3) the 
proponent may borrow funds from state programs; or, (4) the 
proponent may choose to reformulate the project costs and re-
compete the project through the entire award process in the 
next round.
    As an example of the flexibility of the program, pipeline 
bedding and materials costs for the Ferron Project were 
underestimated in the proposal and subsequent construction 
cooperative agreement. As such, the proponent was denied 
permission to award materials contracts for the pipeline since 
the costs were beyond those contained in the agreement. After 
months of negotiations and analysis, the proponents chose to 
terminate the project, reformulate it, and recompete against 
other proposals the following year. Their project was found to 
be competitive at the reformulated cost and was able to 
proceed.
    In 1999, Reclamation received nearly a dozen new proposals 
which are working their way through the evaluation process. An 
increase in the authorized funding ceiling is needed to be able 
to continue the bid solicitation process so that future 
projects can be scheduled, permitted, designed, and constructed 
to meet the annual goals of the program over the next decade.
    We would like to note that a change in cost-sharing might 
be warranted for this program, and urge the Committee to 
consider changing the cost share for the Colorado River Basin 
Salinity Control Program to be consistent with similar federal 
programs like the Environmental Protection Agency's Section 
319. The Section 319 program, which like this program provides 
cost-shared grants for non-point pollution control, requires a 
40% non-Federal cost share as a reflection of the substantial 
benefits that grant recipients receive.
    Mr. Chairman, the Bureau of Reclamation is an enthusiatic 
participant in this excellent and innovative program. We are 
pleased to support S. 1211.
    This concludes my testimony. I would be glad to answer any 
questions.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill S. 1211, as ordered reported, are shown as follows 
(existing law proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black 
brackets, new matter is printed in italic, existing law in 
which no change is proposed is shown in roman):

Public Law 104-20, 109 Stat. 255, 256

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


    (c) In addition to the amounts authorized to be 
appropriated under subsection (b) of this section, there are 
authorized to be appropriated [$75,000,000 for subsection 
202(a)] $175,000,000 for section 202(a), including constructing 
the works described in [paragraph 202(a)(6)] paragraph (6) of 
section 202(a) and carrying out the measures described in such 
paragraph. Notwithstanding subsection (b), the Secretary may 
implement the program under [paragraph 202(a)(6)] section 
202(a)(6) only to the extent and in such amounts as are 
provided in advance in appropriations Acts.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *