Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
 

 
Measure would include 12 Utah dams

Senate snag for bill mandating annual dam-safety inspections

By Thomas Burr, The Salt Lake Tribune July 9, 2008

Followed by text of legislation

   WASHINGTON -- A measure that would require annual inspections of some of the nation's aging dams, including more than a dozen in Utah, hit a snag Tuesday during a Senate hearing. 

    Critics question whether the push is too broad and shortchanged on funding.

    Under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's bill, the Bureau of Reclamation would have to annually inspect all of its inventory of dams, levees and canals and prioritize projects to repair or rehabilitate those in need.

    That would cover 13 federally owned dams in Utah. Some 37 federally owned dams in the state are large enough to be covered by a previous law that mandates routine inspections. Most of the more than 900 dams in Utah are privately owned and subject to safety inspections by the state Division of Water Rights.

    Reid, a Nevada Democrat, says the federal bill is necessary to assure Americans they don't have to fear flooding because of crumbling facilities. But the Bureau of Reclamation opposes the legislation, saying that while the agency shares the goal, the bill covers too much territory and may undermine its current effort to inspect dams and levees and prioritize the need for rehabilitation.

    "I think we're doing a very good job, an adequate job of maintaining our dams and their safety, so I'm not sure we need more legislation dealing with dams," Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Robert Johnson testified before a Senate subcommittee. 

    Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance, which represents small farmers, ranchers and irrigation districts, also praised the bill's goal, but said it creates new or redundant programs when a detailed inspection program already exists.

    "One-size does not fit all and blanket inspections for all Reclamation facilities are not appropriate or cost-effective," Keppen testified.

    Several Western Democratic senators disagree.

    Many Western dams are simply worn out, argued Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

    "It is long past time, in my opinion, that we take a proactive stand on improving our infrastructure," he said.

    Reid cited a failed levee in Nevada that flooded some 590 homes as just one example of why more inspections are needed. In testimony at a previous hearing, Reid said many of the Bureau of Reclamation's 673 facilities are over 50 years old and some are 90 to 100.

    "Sadly, even the Bureau of Reclamation isn't well-informed about the condition of many of these," Reid said in April.

    Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, says he supports the aim of the legislation but is concerned that it may cost so much money it could divert from other programs. The senator said in a statement that "clearly our first priority must be to ensure the safety of facilities which pose the greatest threats to population areas."

    The Congressional Research Service reported recently that the Bureau of Reclamation is preparing a summary of the condition of its aging dams and other structures, but that the document has not been circulated outside the Bush administration.

    Johnson declined at the hearing to say when the report would be issued.

   
tburr@sltrib.com
 
Side Bar
 
Dam safety

    See The Tribune's recent investigation of dam safety in Utah, and check on dams near you, by visiting http://extras.sltrib.com/dam_safety

==========================================================================

Text of Legislation

 
Introduced: Apr 10, 2008
Sponsor: Sen. Harry Reid [D-NV]
Status: Introduced
 

Text of Legislation

S 2842 IS

110th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 2842

To require the Secretary of the Interior to carry out annual inspections of canals, levees, tunnels, dikes, pumping plants, dams, and reservoirs under the jurisdiction of the Secretary, and for other purposes.

 

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
 
April 10, 2008

Mr. REID (for himself, Mr. BINGAMAN, Mr. SALAZAR, and Mr. TESTER) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


A BILL

To require the Secretary of the Interior to carry out annual inspections of canals, levees, tunnels, dikes, pumping plants, dams, and reservoirs under the jurisdiction of the Secretary, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Aging Water Infrastructure and Maintenance Act'.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:

      (1) INSPECTION- The term `inspection' means an inspection of a project facility carried out by the Secretary--

        (A) to assess and determine the general condition of the project facility; and

        (B) to estimate the value of property, and the size of the population, that would be at risk if the project facility fails, is breached, or otherwise allows flooding to occur.

      (2) PROJECT FACILITY- The term `project facility' means any part or incidental feature of a reclamation or irrigation project (including any canal, levee, tunnel, dike, pumping plant, dam, or reservoir) that is--

        (A) under the jurisdiction of the Secretary (including any facility owned by the Department of the Interior); and

        (B) not covered by the Reclamation Safety of Dams Act of 1978 (43 U.S.C. 506 et seq.).

      (3) RESERVED PROJECT FACILITY- The term `reserved project facility' means any project facility at which the Secretary carries out the operation and maintenance of the project facility.

      (4) SECRETARY- The term `Secretary' means the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Commissioner of Reclamation.

      (5) TRANSFERRED PROJECT FACILITY- The term `transferred project facility' means a project facility the operation and maintenance of which is carried out by a non-Federal entity.

 

SEC. 3. INSPECTION OF PROJECT FACILITIES.

    (a) Inspections-

      (1) INITIAL INSPECTION PERIOD-

        (A) IN GENERAL- In accordance with subparagraph (B), not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall conduct an inspection of not less than 75 percent of all project facilities.

        (B) SELECTION OF PROJECT FACILITIES- In selecting project facilities to inspect during the initial inspection period under subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall take into account the risk posed by each project facility to public health or safety, or property.

      (2) FINAL INSPECTION PERIOD- Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall conduct an inspection of each project facility not inspected by the Secretary during the initial inspection period under paragraph (1)(A).

      (3) REIMBURSEMENT RELATING TO INSPECTIONS OF TRANSFERRED PROJECT FACILITIES- Notwithstanding any applicable law (including regulations), with respect to an inspection of a transferred project facility carried out under this subsection, the Secretary may not request from the non-Federal entity that carries out the operation and maintenance of the transferred project facility reimbursement for costs arising from the inspection.

      (4) PERIODIC REVIEW OF INSPECTIONS- Not later than 3 years after the date described in paragraph (2) and every 3 years thereafter, the Secretary shall carry out a review of each inspection carried out under paragraphs (1) and (2).

    (b) Use of Inspection Data- The Secretary shall use the data collected by the Secretary through the conduct of the inspections under paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection (a)--

      (1) to develop for each reserved project facility a detailed schedule for the conduct of regular maintenance;

      (2) to develop for, and provide to, each non-Federal entity that carries out the operation and maintenance of a transferred project facility--

        (A) a detailed schedule for the conduct of regular maintenance; and

        (B) a document that contains guidance describing the manner by which to comply with the schedule described in subparagraph (A); and

      (3) to create a national priorities list that contains a description of each project facility that requires the most urgent maintenance with respect to the infrastructure of the project facility.

    (c) National Priorities List-

      (1) ANNUAL REVIEW- Not later than 1 year after the date on which the Secretary develops the national priorities list under subsection (b)(3) and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall carry out a review of each project facility to update the list for the year covered by the review.

      (2) PUBLICATION- The national priorities list shall be published by the Secretary in the budget justification of the Department of the Interior for the year covered by the national priorities list.

    (d) State Participation- In conducting an inspection of a project facility under subsection (a), the Secretary shall--

      (1) notify the appropriate State agency of the State in which the project facility is located of the inspection;

      (2) allow the State agency described in paragraph (1) to participate in the inspection of the project facility; and

      (3) provide to the State agency described in paragraph (1) a report that describes the results of the inspection of the project facility.

 

SEC. 4. FEDERAL STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES FOR PROJECT FACILITIES.

    (a) Promulgation of Standards-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, in accordance with paragraph (2), the Secretary shall promulgate final regulations to establish standards for the condition and maintenance of project facilities.

      (2) CONTENTS- The regulations promulgated by the Secretary under paragraph (1) shall contain a detailed description of each condition with which a project facility shall comply to be eligible to be considered by the Secretary--

        (A) to function properly and in accordance with the objectives of the project facility; and

        (B) to operate in a manner to ensure, to the maximum extent practicable--

          (i) the safety of populations located in close proximity to the project facility; and

          (ii) the preservation of property located in close proximity to the project facility.

    (b) Promulgation of Guidelines-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, in accordance with paragraph (2), the Secretary shall promulgate final regulations to establish guidelines--

        (A) to implement this Act; and

        (B) to ensure compliance with the regulations promulgated by the Secretary under subsection (a).

      (2) CONTENTS- The regulations promulgated by the Secretary under paragraph (1) shall reflect an agency-wide policy with respect to the type, and proportion of, activities relating to the operation and maintenance of a project facility that may be appropriately carried out by a non-Federal entity, taking into account--

        (A) any economic benefit that may result from the carrying out of the activities by a non-Federal entity; and

        (B) the capabilities of the non-Federal entity to carry out the activities.

 

SEC. 5. MODIFICATION OF PROJECT FACILITIES.

    (a) In General- The Secretary shall carry out or, in accordance with subsection (b), provide to a non-Federal entity financial support to carry out, any modification to a project facility that the Secretary determines to be reasonably required to preserve the structural safety of the project facility.

    (b) Reimbursement of Costs Arising From the Repair of Structurally Deficient Transferred Project Facilities-

      (1) COMPLIANT TRANSFERRED PROJECT FACILITIES-

        (A) IN GENERAL- Subject to subparagraph (B), to reimburse a non-Federal entity for costs arising from the carrying out of repair activities to improve the safety of a transferred project facility, the Secretary may provide to the non-Federal entity an amount equal to 65 percent of the costs incurred by the non-Federal entity to carry out the repair activities.

        (B) DETERMINATION OF SECRETARY- The Secretary shall reimburse the non-Federal entity described in subparagraph (A) if the Secretary determines that--

          (i) the transferred project facility of the non-Federal entity is structurally deficient; and

          (ii) the structural deficiency is not a result of noncompliance with any regulation promulgated by the Secretary under section 4.

      (2) NONCOMPLIANT TRANSFERRED PROJECT FACILITIES-

        (A) IN GENERAL- The Secretary may carry out any repair activity that the Secretary determines to be necessary to minimize the risk of imminent harm to public health or safety, or property--

          (i) if the Secretary determines that--

            (I) the transferred project facility is structurally deficient; and

            (II) the structural deficiency is a result of noncompliance with any regulation promulgated by the Secretary under section 4; and

          (ii) after the date on which the Secretary consults with the non-Federal entity that carries out the operation and maintenance of the transferred project facility.

        (B) REIMBURSEMENT- In accordance with any applicable law (including regulations) or agreement, the Secretary may seek reimbursement from the non-Federal entity that carries out the operation and maintenance of the transferred project facility described in subparagraph (A) for costs arising from each repair activity carried out by the Secretary under that subparagraph.

 

SEC. 6. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    (a) Inspection of Project Facilities- There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out section 3--

      (1) $5,000,000 for fiscal year 2009; and

      (2) $1,500,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2013.

    (b) Modification of Project Facilities- There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out section 5.

 

 

 
Home Contact

 

              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific


             Copyright klamathbasincrisis.org, 2008, All Rights Reserved