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Mr. JOHNSON. Our next witness is Mr. Brent Blackwelder, Washington representative of the Environmental Protection Center. Mr. Blackwelder, it is good to have you with us this morning.

STATEMENT OF BRENT BLACKWELDER

Mr. BLACKWELDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have here a statement from John McComb, who is the Southwest representative of the Sierra Club; I would appreciate if this statement would be made a part of the record.

Mr. JOHNSON. The statement will appear in the record as if presented.

Mr. BLACKWELDER. Due to the lateness of the hour, I will just read brief portions of this statement.

Mr. JOHNSON. If you can summarize, your complete statement will appear in the record.

Mr. BLACKWELDER. Thank you. We feel the bills now pending before this committee concerning salinity control programs for the Colorado River Basin not only fail to come to grips with the central issues, but propound solutions which may not satisfactorily handle the problems, and which may not be wise in view of the energy situation. They fail to force those responsible for the problem to shoulder a major share of the costs of the cleanup.

The bills before the committee do not not properly address two central issues; (1) the alternative of eliminating the Wellton-Mohawk irrigation district which is one of the primary causes of the salinity problem with Mexico; and (2) the alternative of curtailing development of some of the upstream irrigation projects which will aggravate the salinity situation if constructed, and cause increasing damages downstream. We wish to address these two points briefly.

We urge the committee to give serious consideration to the complete phasing out of the Wellton-Mohawk district as an alternative to constructing the desalting plant complex. From a national perspective it is possible that this alternative would result in the most satisfactory reduction of salinity; (3) prove to be less costly to the taxpayer over the long run than building and operating a desalting complex; (4) help save energy in an energy crisis; and (5) be environmentally sound.

I wish to point out to the committee that of the total cost of $50 million, originally designed for irrigators for repayment, only $1 million as of June 30, 1973, has been reimbursed. It seems incredible that the taxpayers of the Nation are now being asked to spend many millions more, possibly as much as $200 million in the long run, to remedy the salinity problems occasioned by this irrigation district.

There is need to consider curtailed development of upstream projects. We believe that this committee should be questioning the wisdom of proceeding with more upstream irrigation projects which further aggravate the salinity problems. Projects planned or under construction should be reassessed to determine which should be allowed to go forward, which should be dropped altogether, and which should be modified in certain respects.

We feel that there are serious problems with the proposed cost sharing for salinity controls in section 205 of H.R. 12165. It is improper to cite the 75-percent Federal/25-percent non-Federal formula of the Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 as providing the basis for a similar cost sharing on salinity controls. The 75/25 formula in that act was directed at the grant program for the construction of treatment plants for domestic sewage. This cost-sharing formula was not to be applied to projects installed by industry to handle its discharges or to agricultural pollution.

It is our view that the costs of cleaning up salinity from irrigation projects should be borne by the irrigators of the problem districts themselves, and these costs should in turn be reflected in the cost of the agricultural products which these districts produce.

Channelization of the Gila River should not be allowed, and we are troubled by the language which states: "The Secretary is also authorized, in conjunction with the Corps of Engineers, to adopt other control measures below the dam."

We don't know what the other control measures” referred to might be, and we are worried that the channelization of the Gila might be included among such measures. We are strongly opposed to the channelization of the Gila because of the significant environmental damage that this would cause, and we urge that the committee drop the above language or else specifically prohibit the channelization of the Gila.

We conclude by urging this committee to undertake a full-scale review of all irrigation projects proposed or in early stages of construction in order to determine their salinity problems, what downstream damages they might cause, and what the cleanup costs will amount to.

We hope the committee will take a critical look at the salinity problems associated with the Garrison diversion project in North Dakota. This project could do to Canada what the Wellton-Mohawk irrigation has done to Mexico.

We urge the committee to take swift action to place a moratorium on these projects so that we can prevent ourselves from getting into a situation comparable to that which we now find ourselves in with Mexico.

Thank you for the opportunity of testifying, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Johnson. Thank you for coming here to give us the benefit of the thoughts of the Environmental Policy Center.

I just want to make one comment; anything new that is going to be built, must comply with the Environmental Protection Act of 1969; and must comply with the Water Pollution Control Act of 1972. I am convinced that all future works, or developments on which public funds are used will have to be approved by the proper authorities. So, I think we will have much safer types of programs developed under those two statutes than we have had before.

So, I think much of your concern raised about future projects will be resolved because they all have to comply with the Environmental Protection Act and the Water Control Act.

Mr. BLACKWELDER. If I might respond to that. It is our experience that the agencies which are required to comment on these environmental impact statements have veto power on the projects; and some of the projects are going full speed ahead. A decade from now we are going to be required to come in with cosmetic aftereffect approaches to take care of additional problems that should have been addressed right at the time, at this particular moment before we go further and commit ourselves to more construction funding.

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Mr. Johnson. Does counsel have any questions?
Mr. Casey. Just two points.

Mr. Blackwelder, perhaps you are not aware that the Committee of Fourteen questioned authorization of other control measures downstream from Painted Rock Dam” and offered an amendment to strike that passage.

Mr. BLACKWELDER. I am pleased that the channelization of the Gila River will not be one of the measures undertaken.

Mr. Casey. The other point is, do you extend your criticism of the 75/25 percent cost sharing to the Paradox program; it doesn't seem like industry, or anybody else should bear the burden for that.

Mr. BLACKWELDER. We believe that the salinity control program should be directed primarily at man-made sources of salinity, rather than nature's sources, some of which are of religious significance to Indians; also, some of them are located in areas of immense scenic beauty. Any attempt to modify that would result in substantial losses in environment.

Mr. Johnson. Thank you, Mr. Blackwelder.

[The statements of Brent Blackwelder and John A. McComb are as follows:j STATEMENT OF BRENT BLACKWELDER, WASHINGTON REPRESENTATIVE OF THE

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY CENTER

INTRODUCTION

My name is Brent Blackwelder and I am a Washington Representative of the Environmental Policy Center, a national conservation organization which does research and lobbying on critical environmental issues. Our Washington office is located at 324 C Št. S.E., Washington, D.C. 20030.

The Environmental Policy Center believes that the United States has a moral obligation to Mexico to remedy the salinity problems in the Colorado River which we have caused as the result of irrigation projects. We believe that the United States has long neglected its responsibility in this area and in fact has conducted itself in a fashion unbecoming a nation that professes to adhere to high moral standards. We feel that the bills now pending before this Committee concerning salinity control programs for the Colorado River Basin (H.R. 12165, H.R. 12834, H.R. 7774, & 7775) not only fail to come to grips with the central issues but propound solutions which may not satisfactorily handle the problems, which may not be wise in view of the energy situation, and which fail to force those responsible for the problem to shoulder a major share of the costs of cleanup. The bills before the Committee do not properly address two central issues: 1) the alternative of eliminating the Wellton-Mowhawk irrigation district which is one of the primary causes of the salinity problem with Mexico and 2) the alternative of curtailing development of some of the upstream irrigation projects which will aggravate the salinity situation if constructed and cause increasing damages downstream. We wish to address these two points briefly and then to on to offer some specific comments about various aspects of the legislation. We will concentrate our remarks primarily on H.R. 12165.

POSSIBLE ELIMINATION OF THE WELLTON-MOWHAWK IRRIGATION DISTRICT

We urge the Committee to give serious consideration to the complete phasing out of the Wellton-Mowhawk District as an alternative to constructing the desalting plant complex. H.R. 12165 does propose cutting down the size of the irrigation district, but we feel this falls drastically short of what is needed. No doubt any proposal to eliminate this district will be vigorously opposed by the Arizona delegation. However, from a national perspective it is possible that this alternative would: 1) result in the most satisfactory reduction of salinity, 2) prove to be less costly to the taxpayer over the long run than building and operating a desalting complex, 3) help save energy in an energy crisis, and 4) be environmentally sound.

The history of the Wellton-Mowhawk irrigation district is no doubt familiar to this Committee and the environmental problems and economic costs associated with this irrigation district lead to the conclusion that this area should never have been irrigated to begin with. We wish to call the Committee's attention to the fact that of the total cost of $50 million originally assigned to irrigators for repayment, only $1 million as of June 30, 1973, has been reimbursed. It seems incredible that the taxpayers of the nation are now being asked to spend many millions more (possibly as much as $200 million in the long run) to remedy the salinity problems occasioned by this irrigation district.

NEED TO CONSIDER CURTAILED DEVELOPMENT OF UPSTREAM PROJECTS

We believe that this Committee should be questioning the wisdom of proceeding with more upstream irrigation projects which further aggravate the salinity problem. Projects planned or under construction should be reassessed to determine which should be allowed to go forward, which should be dropped altogether, and which should be modified in certain respects. The following projects merit special scrutiny with regard to the salinity problems they may occasion: the Central Utah Project, Dolores, Dallas Creek, San Miguel, West Divide, Animas La Plata, China Meadows, and Fryingpan-Arkansas. The Bonneville Unit of the Central Utah Project, for example, will increase the salinity of the Colorado River at Hoover Dam by 14 mg/i. The Environmental Projection Agency has assigned a cost of $580,000 per year to the damages caused by that increase in salinity. The entire Central Utah Project would cause $2.5 million annually in damages due to aggravation of salinity conditions. It is a wonder that Mexico can take the United States seriously on salinity issues when we persist in building upstream projects that continually add to the salinity problems downstream.

Proposals which claim to deal with the salinity problem without simultaneously imposing controls on continued development of new irrigation projects upstream can only be termed inadequate and shortsighted. We believe that if the costs of salinity control associated with these irrigation projects were properly incorporated into the benefit-cost ratio and were assigned to irrigators, then it would be apparent that many of these projects should not go forward.

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PROPOSED COST-SHARING FORMULA IMPROPER

We feel that there are serious problems with the proposed cost-sharing for salinity controls in Section 205 of H.R. 12165. It is improper to cite the 75% federal/25% nonfederal formula of the Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 as providing the basis for a similar cost sharing on salinity controls. The 75/25 formula in that Act was directed at the grant program for the construction of treatment plants for domestic sewage. This cost-sharing formula was not to be applied to projects installed by industry to handle its discharges or to agricultural pollution. It is our view that the costs of cleaning up salinity from irrigation proj, ects should be born by the irrigators of the problem districts themselves, and these costs should in turn be reflected in the cost of the agricultural products which those districts produce. Otherwise, there is gross distortion in the true cost of producing crops in certain areas as a result of the government subsidization of salinity cleanup, and this patently discriminates against farmers elsewhere in the country.

We wish to point out further that even with the 75/25 cost-sharing formula, the irrigators are still not paying the 25% non-federal share. Rather, consumers of electric power are being forced to subsidize irrigators by taking care of this share. Finally, we are especially concerned that the costs of taking care of any salinity caused by development of energy resources in the West be assigned to the industry responsible and not to the taxpayer.

CHANNELIZATION OF THE GILA RIVER SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED

In Section 101(k) of H.R. 12165 we are troubled by the language which states: “The Secretary is also authorized, in conjunction with the Corps of Engineers, to adopt other control measures below the dam.

We don't know what the “other control measures” referred to might be, and we are worried that the channelization of the Gila might be included among such measures. We are strongly opposed to any channelization of the Gila because of the significant environmental damage that this would cause and we urge that the Committee drop the above language or else specifically prohibit the channelization of the Gila.

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