Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman Brian Schatz (D-HI), introduced bipartisan legislation to help improve aging water delivery systems and Bureau of Reclamation facilities across the country.
The Bureau of Reclamation Maintenance Transparency Act requires the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to complete an Infrastructure Needs Assessment Report every two years listing major repairs and rehabilitation needs at BOR facilities.
"It's hard for people in Wyoming and across the West to have a clean, abundant and reliable supply of water when a majority of Bureau of Reclamation facilities are old and need repair," said Barrasso. "We can't move forward with updating these important water delivery systems until we have a better idea of what the specific maintenance needs are in our state. Our bill fixes this by requiring Washington to provide a detailed list of the major repairs needed to keep these facilities operating safely and effectively for years to come."
"Whether you're in Hawai'i or Wyoming, you need clean, safe water -- and sound water infrastructure is key to that," said Schatz. "Aging infrastructure around the country could compromise the water our communities depend upon. This is common-sense legislation to make sure the Bureau of Reclamation has the most up-to-date, streamlined information on aging infrastructure based on communities' unique needs."
The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is responsible for maintaining water delivery systems--including reservoirs, canals, etc. throughout the West. A majority of these systems are over 50 years old and in need of repair. Despite repeated requests made by Senator Barrasso, the Department of Interior has failed to provide adequate details on the depth and scope of our maintenance backlog at BOR facilities.
The Bureau of Reclamation Transparency Act would force the BOR to do an Infrastructure Needs Assessment Report every two years as part of the BOR's existing Asset Management Plan reporting process. This Infrastructure Needs Assessment Report would be available to the public on BOR's webpage. The report would include:
1) An itemized list of major repair and rehabilitation needs at each BOR facility.
2) A cost estimate of the expenditures needed to address those repairs.
3) A categorical safety rating, using BOR's own existing categorical system, of the importance of addressing each item.