18 Jun CONGRESS HEARS LEAGUE AS HOUSE ENERGY & WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS BILL AND REPORT LANGUAGE IS RELEASED
In May, the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee released their bill and report language. The bill did not follow the President's proposed 28% decrease to the Bureau of Reclamation. Instead, it provides a total of over $1.6 billion for Reclamation, which is $82.8 million above fiscal year 2019 and $523 million above the President's proposed budget. Within Reclamation, the bill provides $400 million in additional funding for water resources projects, including those authorized in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, and $121 million is provided for rural water projects above the budget request.
Additionally, the subcommittee's report indicates support for the Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program (the following is an excerpt):
"Columbia Basin Project, Washington - The Committee is aware of the Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program within the Columbia Basin Project to deliver surface water to the Odessa Subarea. The Subarea groundwater is being withdrawn at a rate beyond the aquifer's capacity to recharge, and aquifers in the Subarea are quickly declining. Groundwater is virtually depleted to such an extent that water must be pumped from wells as deep as 2,400 feet. Water pumped from such depths is hot and has dangerously high sodium concentrations. The Committee supports Reclamation's partnership in the program to provide farmlands in Central and Eastern Washington with surface water supply through operational changes in the storage and delivery system and urges Reclamation to move forward to implement the program."
Combined with testimony from Representative Newhouse emphasizing the dire need to address Odessa Subarea ground water depletion, the League's efforts to secure FY20 funding for the Columbia Basin Project are making progress. Next, the bill will be considered on the House floor. The Senate has not yet released their bill.