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Calendar No. 50
110th Congress Report
1st Session 110-24
LITTLE BUTTE/BEAR CREEK SUBBASINS WATER FEASIBILITY ACT
February 16, 2007.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Bingaman, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 265]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 265) 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 without amendment and recommends that the
bill do pass.
The purpose of S. 265 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. 265 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. 265 was introduced by Senator Smith for himself and
Senator Wyden on January 11, 2007 and referred to the Committee
on Energy and Natural Resources. At its business meeting on
January 31, 2007, the Committee ordered S. 263 favorably
During the 109th Congress, the Committee considered similar
legislation, S. 251, introduced by Senator Smith on February 1,
2005. Senator Wyden was a co-sponsor. The Subcommittee on Water
and Power held a hearing on S. 251 on April 19, 2005 (S. Hrg.
109-96). At the business meeting on September 28, 2005, the
Committee ordered S. 251, as amended, favorably reported (S.
Rept. 109-165). S. 251 passed the Senate, by unanimous consent,
on November 16, 2005. No further action occurred on S. 251
prior to the sine die adjournment of the 109th Congress. A
companion measure, Section 4 of H.R. 5079, was considered by
the House of Representatives under suspension of the rules and
passed by a voice vote on September 25, 2006.
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on January 31, 2007, by voice vote of a quorum
present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 265.
Section 1(a) provides the short title.
Section 1(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.
Section 1(c) authorizes $500,000 for the Bureau's
activities; requires the non-Federal cost-share to be 50
percent of the Bureau's costs; allows the non-Federal cost-
share to be in the form of in-kind services, as long as the
Secretary of the Interior determines that such 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. 265--Little Butte/Bear Creek Subbasins Water Feasibility Act
S. 265 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. 265 would authorize the appropriation of
$500,000 for this study.
Assuming appropriation of the specified amount, CBO
estimates that implementing S. 265 would cost $500,000 in 2008.
Enacting S. 265 would not affect direct spending or revenues.
S. 265 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 Julie Middleton.
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. 265. The bill is not a regulatory measure in
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals
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. 265, as ordered reported.
Because S. 265 is similar to legislation considered during
the 109th Congress, the Committee did not request Executive
Agency views. The testimony provided by the Bureau of
Reclamation at the Subcommittee hearing on S. 251 in the 109th
Statement of William Rinne, Deputy Commissioner of Reclamation,
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. 265, as ordered