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We recommend that H.R. 12834 be enacted and that H.R. 12165 not be enacted,
Because H.R. 12834 and Title I of H.R. 12165 are directed at carrying out an international agreement with Mexico, we defer to the Department of State for comment on the international aspects of these proposed measures.
H.R. 12834 authorizes the implementation of an agreement with the Government of Mexico to resolve the international problem of the salinity of Colorado River waters delivered to Mexico under the Water Treaty of 1944. The principal means of carrying out this agreement is construction of a desalting complex to reduce the saline flows of a major portion of the water returning to the Colorado River as drainage from the Wellton-Mouawk Irrigation and Drainage District in Arizona. Related measures are also contemplated, including lining of a 49 mile reach of the Coachella Canal in southern California, reduction of acreage and improved irrigation efficiency and agricultural practices in the District, and more extensive regulation of the Gila River.
H.R. 12165 is directed at the much broader problem of the overall salinity of the Colorado River. Title I directs the Secretary of the Interior to undertake specific measures to deal with the salini:y of Colorado River waters delivered to Mexico at the Northerly International Boundary. These include the measures which would be authorized by H.R. 12834 as well as contingent authorization for development of a protective ground water pumping scheme along the U.S.-Mexico border at an authorized cost of $34 million. With respect to agency jurisdiction for implementation of this proposed program, we do not believe that this Department should be given overall responsibility for ensuring that the obligations of this agreement with Mexico are fulfilled. That responsibility appropriately belongs to the State Department. The necessary coordination of these proposed international measures with Federal domestic programs and projects can be carried out through consultation with this Department and other appropriate Federal agencies, as provided in H.R. 12834.
Title II of H.R. 12165 would authorize certain measures upstream of Imperial Dam to deal with related domestic salinity problems. It would direct implementation of the salinity control policy adopted for the Colorado River in the “Conclusions and Recommendations of the April 1972 Seventh Conference on Colorado River water quality and would require expediting the salinity control program described in the Secretary's report entitled "Colorado River Water Quality Improvement Program, February 1972.” It would authorize four salinity control unitsParadox Valley and Grand Valley in Colorado, Crystal Geyser in Utah and Las Vegas Wash in Nevada. The Secretary of the Interior would be required to complete expeditiously and submit to the President, Congress and other agencies specified planning reports on units in the Secretary's 1972 report referred to above. The bill would establish a Colorado River Salinity Control Advisory Council and would specify the principles of cost sharing for units to be constructed pursuant to its provisions. The Secretary would be authorized to increase power rates under the Colorado River Storage Project Act to cover the portion of reimbursable costs of the units authorized by Title II that are allocated to the Upper Colorado River Basin States.
The necessary feasibility studies for authorization of the four units which Title II would require the Secretary to construct have not been completed and we therefore recommend deferral of authorization for those units. We enclose, however, a status report on these and other units which bear on the salinity of the Colorado River. Much of the data and information included in this status report is preliminary and has not been reviewed by other Federal agencies. However, the report does indicate the progress made on this Department's ongoing Colorado River Water Quality Improvement Program.
The Executive Branch currently has under review the policies and principles which should govern measures to deal with the salinity and other water quality matters on the Colorado and other similarly affected rivers. Until that review is complete, we are unable to support those provisions of Title II establishing such policies and principles. Congressional action in this area should be deferred in view of the precedential significance of this legislation and the importance of the unresolved questions. We intend to continue the studies as expeditiously as feasible and to the extent permitted by appropriations.
The Office of Management and Budget has advised that enactment of H.R. 12834 is in accord with the program of the President and that there is no objection to the presentation of this report. Sincerely yours,
Jack Horton, Assistant Secretary of the Interior.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, D.C., March 1, 1974. Hon. James A. HALEY, Chairman, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The Secretary has asked that I reply to your letter of January 23 requesting a report on H.R. 12165, entitled "A Bill To authorize the construction, operation and maintenance of certain works in the Colorado River Basin to control the salinity of water delivered to users in the United States and Mexico."
The Department of State transmitted to the Congress on February 7 the Administration's draft bill that would authorize the works and measures required to implement the agreement concluded with Mexico on August 30, 1973, and entitled “Permanent and Definitive Solution to the International Problem of the Salinity of the Colorado River.” You introduced this bill by request, and it is now identified as H.R. 12834.
The Department strongly recommends enactment of H.R. 12834 in lieu of H.R. 12165. H.R. 12834 is the result of an extensive inter-agency review, and presents the most practicable means of fulfilling the international obligations of the agreement with Mexico, with special consideration being given to minimizing any possible adverse impacts on U.S. water users within the Colorado River Basin.
H.R. 12165 differs from H.R. 12834 in three major respects.
H.R. 12165 would assign jurisdiction over the works proposed for implementation of the agreement with Mexico to the Department of the Interior. H.R. 12834 would assign responsibility for carrying out this international program to the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission. The U.S. Section of the Commission is the appropriate Federal agency, because the proposed works are being constructed for implementation of the agreement and of the 1944 Water Treaty under which the agreement was concluded. The works are located on or along the boundary, a part of them actually crossing the boundary. The Water Treaty provides that "The works to be constructed or used on or along the boundary, and those to be constructed or used exclusively for the discharge of treaty stipulations, shall be under the jurisdiction of the Commission or of the respective Section, in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty. In carrying out the construction of such works the Sections of the Commission may utilize the services of public or private organizations in accordance with the laws of their respective countries.” The assignment of jurisdiction should therefore properly go to the U.S. Section, with the U.S. Section calling on other Federal agencies to assist it as appropriate in the execution of the work. This the Section proposes to do as indicated in H.R. 12834.
Section 103 of Title I of H.R. 12165 would authorize a system of wells along the U.S.-Mexico boundary for the purpose of counteracting the effect of a Mexican border well field on U.S. groundwaters and surface flows. The agreement with Mexico recognizes that the United States may install such a well field, but does not obligate the United States to do so. The co: t is estimated at $34 million. This well field would be costly and is not required by the agreement with Mexico. The Department recommends that the Committee defer consideration of the authorization of a border well field at this time and until further studies can be undertaken by the Department of the Interior and this Department on this matter.
Title II of H.R. 12165 would initiate an extensive domestic water quality improvement program, which significantly increases the total cost of the bill. The Department concurs in the objective to control the salinity of the Colorado River above Imperial Dam, but understands that the Department of the Interior and the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency have not completed their studies and cannot recommend specific policies or projects at this time. More important for the Department of State, considering the serious international concern and purpose here involved, we believe that those measures necessary to implement the international salinity agreement should not be considered within the context of policies governing domestic programs but authorized separately, We therefore recommend that this proposed domestic program be considered separately at such time when the appropriate Federal agencies are able to provide the adequate supporting information to the Congress.
The Department wishes to thank the Chairman and Members of the Committee for scheduling early hearings on this proposed legislation. Many of the provisions
of the agreement are dependent on authorization of works or other measures, and full implementation depends on the appropriation and expenditure of funds. It is requested that H.R. 12834 be enacted as expeditiously as possible.
The Office of Management and Budget advises that there is no objection to the submission of this report to the Congress, and that enactment of H.R. 12834 would be in accord with the program of the President. Sincerely yours,
Linwood Holton, Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations.
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY,
OFFICE OF THE ADMINISTRATOR,
Washington, D.C., March 11, 1974. Hon. JAMES A. HALEY, Chairman, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, House of Representatives,
Washington, D.C. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in response to your request for the views of the Environmental Protection Agency on H.R. 12165, a bill “to authorize the construction, operation, and maintenance of certain works in the Colorado River Basin to control the salinity of water delivered to users in the United States and Mexico."
The bill would provide for salinity control measures that would enable the United States to meet its obligations under the Mexican Water Treaty of 1944.
Title I of the bill would authorize the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to construct certain salinity control works and to take other measures as well to meet our treaty commitments. These would include (a) a desalting plant and related facilities to reduce the salinity of drain water from the Wellton-Mohawk division; (b) the necessary extension of the existing bypass drain to carry reject stream from the desalting plant; (c) the lining of a reach of the Coachella Canal; (d) the acyuisition of lands above the Painted Rock Dam to permit the retention of increased quantities of water in times of serious flooding; (e) measures to improve irrigation efficiency; and (f) measures to reduce the irrigable acreage in the Wellton-Mohawk division. The cost associated with the implementation of this program would be nonreimbursable except as specifically provided in Title I.
In addition to these projects and measures, Title I of the bill would also provide for protective pumping, under certain circumstances, along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Title II of the bill would authorize a program designed to relieve problems caused by the increasing concentrations of dissolved solids in the Colorado River. It would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to construct four salinity control units and to complete planning reports on several additional irrigation, point and diffuse source control units. This Title would direct the Secretary, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Secretary of Agriculture to cooperate and coordinate their activities to carry out the objectives of the Act.
In addition, it would establish an adversary council composed of representatives of States in the Colorado River Basin. The council would act as liaison between both the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture and the Administrator and the States, receive reports on the salinity control program, and recommend to the Secretary of the Interior and the Administrator appropriate studies directed at accomplishing the purposes of the Act.
Title II contains provisions for payment of the Federal share of the cost of construction, operation, maintenance, and replacement of structures, allocation of the remainder among the States, and adjustments in rates charged for energy.
The Secretary would be required to submit biennial reports, beginning on January 1, 1975, to the Congress, the President, and the Advisory Council. These reports would discuss progress made in investigating and constructing salinity control units, the effectiveness of the units, further work needed to meet the objectives of the Act, and special problems that may be impeding progress.
The Environmental Protection Agency is opposed to the enactment of H.R. 12165.
In lieu of Title I of H.R. 12165, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends enactment of H.R. 12834, the Administration proposal. Wbile the basic thrust of both Title I and H.R. 12834 is the same, we nevertheless believe that H.R. 12834 would be the more appropriate mechanism to implement the international salinity agreement embodied in Minute No. 242 of the International Boundary and Water Commission.
We believe that since an effort is being made here to resolve an international problem, the Secretary of State, rather than the Secretary of the Interior, should be the official responsible for implementing the measures necessary to meet our international obligations. The Administration bill strikes a proper balance in this regard because, although it envisages that the Department of the Interior will assist the Department of State with respect to the actual construction of the desalting plant and implementation of other measures, the Department of State would retain the ultimate authority to insure that the United States meets its treaty obligations. Turning to Title II of H.R. 12165, the Environmental Protection Agency believes that the projects referred to in the Title require additional study, particularly in light of the enactment of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. As a result, we feel that enactment of Title II at this time would be premature.
As you know, this bill would authorize measures necessary to implement the “Conclusions and Recommendations” of the Reconvened Seventh Session of the Colorado River Enforcement Conference, which was held under the authority of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and chaired by this Agency. The Conference studied the problems of the Colorado River Basin in depth over an extended period of time and concluded that a salinity policy be adopted that would have as its main objective the maintenance of salinity concentrations at or below levels found in the lower main stem of the system. The Conference further concluded that the program described by the Department of the Interior in its report entitled “Colorado River Water Quality Improvement Program," dated February 1972, offered the best prospect for implementing that salinity control objective.
The Environmental Protection Agency supported the conclusions and recommendations of the Conference at that time, and we continue to support them in principle today. At the same time, however, we believe that it would be premature to enact Title II of H.R. 12165 which is designed to implement those conclusions and recommendations.
A few months after the enforcement conference made its recommendations in June 1972, the Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. In addition to authorizing our Agency to conduct research on agricultural pollution and salinity control problems, these amendments imposed various requirements on pollution dischargers which, we believe, should be considered along with the proposed measures in H.R. 12165 to resolve the salinity problem in the Colorado River Basin.
The 1972 Amendments, for example, require each State to adopt water quality standards consistent with the requirements of the Act. At the present time, our Agency is working with the Colorado River Basin States to delineate requirements and procedures for establishing water quality standards in the basin and to develop a plan to implement these standards. The procedures which those States will follow in developing their standards should be available by June 30 of this year, and we expect the development of numeric criteria and a plan of implementation by October 18, 1975.
In addition to the need to consider the impact that the 1972 Amendments will have on improving the water quality in the basin, we believe that enactment of Title II should be deferred for other reasons as well. We understand that the Department of the Interior is not prepared to recommend authorization of the salinity control units specified in section 202 of H.R. 12165 at this time. The feasibility studies for these units have not been completed, and although we believe that the Department of the Interior should make every effort to complete them by June 1975, it would be premature to proceed with their authorization at this time. Moreover, insofar as those units concern municipal and industrial pollution sources, we feel that they would nevertheless have to meet the permitting and other requirements specified in the 1972 Amendments.
With respect to financing the program outlined in Title II, we believe that more study is necessary to ascertain the costs and financial responsibilities of the Federal and non-Federal interests that would be associated with solving both the natural and man-inade salinity problems in the Colorado River Basin. Presently, there is no estimate of what it would cost to solve this pollution problem on a nationwide basis. I would also like to point out that the reference in section 205(a) (1) of the bill to the seventy-five percent funding policy under the 1972 Amendinents is misleading because the construction grant provisions of those Amendments provide Federal funds only for assistance in construction of municipal waste treatment plants, and thus do not present a situation analogous to the Colorado River salinity control projects. In short, no such policy is contained in the 1972 Amendments, especially insofar as the projects specified in section 202 concern industrial pollution sources.
Finally, section 305(b) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act requires each State to submit to the Administrator of our Agency a report which will include “a description of the nature and extent of nonpoint sources of pollutants and recommendations as to the programs which must be undertaken to control each category of such sources, including an estimate of the costs of implementing such programs.” The Act directs the Administrator, moreover, to submit these reports, together with an analysis prepared by our Agency, to the Congress no later than October 1, 1975.
In view of this State reporting requirement, we recommend deferring consideration of the measures proposed in Title II of H.R. 12165. After the States have submitted these reports and we have had an opportunity to analyze them, we should have more information concerning the scope of the salinity problem nationwide as well as what it will cost to adequately address the problem. The timeframe specified by section 305(b) of the Act is also important in regard to the Colorado River Basin. As October 1975 approaches, our Agency, working in conjunction with the Colorado River Basin States, will have adopted numeric salinity criteria and a basinwide salinity control implementation plan. Furthermore, the Department of the Interior's completion of its salinity control feasibility studies by June 1975 will enable those States to consider the studies before they submit their implementation schedules to our Agency in October 1975.
The Office of Management and Budget advises that there is no objection to the submission of this report to the Congress and that enactment of H.R. 12834 would be in accord with the program of the President. Sincerely yours,
RUSSELL E. TRAIN,
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, D.C., February 7, 1974. Hon. CARL ALBERT, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
Dear Mr. SPEAKER: There is enclosed a draft bill which the Department of State recommends be enacted to authorize implementation of an agreement with the Government of Mexico to resolve the international problem of the salinity of the Colorado River waters delivered by the United States to Mexico under the Water Treaty of 1944. This treaty provides for the delivery to Mexico annually of 1.5 million acre-feet of Colorado River waters.
There are also enclosed for the information of the Congress in its consideration of this draft bill the supporting documents and reports listed at the close of this letter, as well as a section-by-section analysis of the draft bill. The Environmental Impact Statement, one of the enclosures, was prepared in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (P.L. 91–190) and this Department's guidelines. Public notice of the availability of this statement was included in the Federal Register of October 5, 1973. Mr. Herbert Brownell, the President's
Special Representative who negotiated the agreement, describes the Colorado River and discusses at some length its history and the history of the salinity problem with Mexico in his enclosed "Report of the President's Special Representative for Resolution of the Colorado River Salinity Problem with Mexico” dated December 28, 1972. Members of the Congress will recall that when the President of Mexico addressed a joint meeting of the House and Senate on June 15, 1972, President Echeverria referred to this problem as the most delicate between the two countries. This was one of the most important issues dealt with by President Nixon and President Echeverria at their meetings on June 15 and June 16. In their Joint Communique of June 17, 1972, it was announced that the United States would undertake certain actions immediately to improve the quality of the water going to Mexico, and that President Nixon would designate a special representative to find a permanent, definitive and just solution of this problem. The enclosed agreement of August 30,