Statement(s) of P. Patrick Leahy, Acting Director

USGS

STATEMENT OF

DR. P. PATRICK LEAHY

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

 

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES

SUBCOMMITTEE ON WATER AND POWER

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

ON

 

H.R. 4588, “WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH ACT AMENDMENTS OF 2005”

 

May 10, 2006

 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Administration’s views on H.R. 4588, “Water Resources Research Act Amendments of 2005,” a bill to reauthorize grants for applied water supply research regarding the water resources research and technology institutes established under the Water Resources Research Act of 1984. 

 

The Administration agrees in principle with the goals of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984, specifically to support academic research to aid in the resolution of State and regional water problems, to promote technology transfer, and to provide for training of scientists and engineers.  However, the Administration does not support reauthorization of the Act, and has some concerns with H.R. 4588 as discussed more fully below. 

 

Background

 

The Water Resources Research Act (42 U.S.C. 10301 et seq.) was originally enacted in 1964.  The Act, as reauthorized, establishes university-based water resources research institutes, which are to conduct a program of water-related research and training of scientists and engineers to enter fields of water research and management.  Each Institute’s program priorities are to be set in consultation with state advisory committees.  There are 54 Institutes, one at the “1862” land grant university in each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.  The Institute in Guam also serves the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.  The Institutes each receive a Federal grant, under which they must match each Federal dollar received with two dollars from non-Federal sources.  The Act also authorizes a competitive grant program for research on water problems of a regional or interstate nature and for which the research priorities are set jointly by the Institutes and the Secretary of the Interior.  Fiscal year 2006 priorities for the competitive grant program relate to research on water availability.  The Institutes are required to match each Federal dollar received under this program with one dollar from non-Federal sources.  The Institute program is administered by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). 

 

Analysis of H.R. 4588 

 

H.R. 4588 would amend the Water Resources Research Act of 1984 to require each water resources research and technology Institute to plan, conduct, or otherwise arrange for competent applied and peer reviewed research that fosters specified goals, including creating new water supplies and resolving water supply problems.  As written, there is concern that H.R. 4588 would narrow the focus of research to water supply at the expense of research on other problems, including water quality and water use.    

 

Evaluations are done every 5 years, and the Administration believes this is sufficient for reasons of both cost and effectiveness.  H.R. 4588 would also direct the Secretary of the Interior to evaluate each Institute once every 3 years to determine, among other things, the effectiveness of its water resources research. 

 

H.R. 4588 would require the Secretary, as part of the annual budget submission to Congress, to provide a crosscut budget detailing expenditures on Institute activities and a report on the annual increase in water supplies, annual water yields, advances in water infrastructure improvements, and the level of applied research.  It should be noted that the Institutes have no regulatory or management roles and thus are not in a position to ensure increases in water supplies or improvements in infrastructure as a result of their research, nor are they in a position to enforce collection of such information from the many different agencies involved with developing water supplies or water infrastructure improvements.

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

Although the Administration is in general agreement with the goals of H.R. 4588, it does not support reauthorization of the Act.  Because the Institutes have developed a constituency and a program that far exceeds that supported by their direct Federal appropriation, there is no longer a need for an annual Federal appropriation for this program.

 

 

This concludes my formal statement, Mr. Chairman.  I will be pleased to respond to your questions.