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Statements On Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC

By Mr. WYDEN:

S. 693. A bill to amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the City of Hermiston, Oregon, water recycling and reuse project, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, today I rise to reintroduce legislation that will authorize the Bureau of Reclamation to share in the cost of the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant for Hermiston, Oregon. This is the same bill that was passed by the House of Representatives, by voice vote, in the 111th Congress and reported by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee without opposition that Congress as well. I look forward to working with supporters of this bill to advance this important reclamation project.

The city of Hermiston will be responsible for the lion's share of this project. CBO has estimated that the Federal share of the $26 million project would be $7 million or just over 1/4 of the cost. Once constructed, the plant will provide the Bureau of Reclamation-authorized West Extension Irrigation District with enough additional high-quality water per year to irrigate approximately 600 acres of high value crops. This will have a significant, long-term benefit to the farming industry in the Hermiston area.

The Hermiston project has gotten the sign-off at every level from the local irrigation district to Federal agencies. The city and the bureau have completed the required feasibility report and the bureau of reclamation has formally concluded that the project meets the requirements of the Title XVI cost-sharing program. The regional office of the National Marine Fisheries Service at NOAA has completed a biological opinion approving the project. The city and the West Extension Irrigation District have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to develop the project. The bureau has concluded its environmental review of the authorization to transfer the water to they district and issued a finding of no significant impact, or FONSI.

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have also recognized the benefits of the project and support it. These benefits include a significant improvement in the quality of water discharged to the Umatilla River in winter and protection of sensitive fish habitat during summer. These benefits have led the tribe to endorse construction of the Hermiston Water Recycling System Improvement Project and the city's effort to obtain Federal funding.

This project will increase agricultural production while improving the local economy, the environment and habitat for endangered fish. I intend to work with colleagues to complete action on legislation that has advanced so far in previous Congresses.

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