U.S. President Trump issues memorandum to promote reliable water, power supply in West

A Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West contained a series of directions for the U.S. Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce to work together to deliver western communities the water supplies they need to irrigate millions of acres of farmland and provide water and power to millions of Americans.

The memorandum has seven sections:

  • Policy
  • Streamlining Western Water Infrastructure Regulatory Processes and Removing Unnecessary Burdens
  • Improve Forecasts of Water Availability
  • Improving Use of Technology to Increase Water Reliability
  • Consideration of Locally Developed Plans in Hydroelectric Projects Licensing
  • Streamlining Regulatory Processes and Removing Unnecessary Burdens on the Columbia River Basin Water Infrastructure
  • General Provisions

President Trump said, “During the 20th Century, the Federal Government invested enormous resources in water infrastructure throughout the western United States to reduce flood risks to communities; to provide reliable water supplies for farms, families, businesses, and fish and wildlife; and to generate dependable hydropower. Decades of uncoordinated, piecemeal regulatory actions have diminished the ability of our Federal infrastructure, however, to deliver water and power in an efficient, cost‑effective way.”

He advocates for improving use of technology to increase water reliability. “… the Secretary of the Interior shall direct appropriate bureaus to promote the expanded use of technology for improving the accuracy and reliability of water and power deliveries,” the memorandum says.

Specific to hydropower, the memorandum says, “To the extent the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce participate in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing activities for hydroelectric projects, and to the extent permitted by law, the Secretaries shall give appropriate consideration to any relevant information available to them in locally developed plans, where consistent with the best available information.”

Sec. 6 of the memorandum, Streamlining Regulatory Processes and Removing Unnecessary Burdens on the Columbia River Basin Water Infrastructure, says, “In order to address water and hydropower operations challenges in the Columbia River Basin, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Energy, and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works under the direction of the Secretary of the Army, shall develop a schedule to complete the Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement and the associated Biological Opinion due by 2020.  The schedule shall be submitted to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality within 60 days of the date of this memorandum.”

Reacting to the memorandum, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said, “Water is the lifeblood of any thriving economy, and its importance in the West cannot be overstated. We want to use water in the most practical sense, and make sure our water infrastructure is in world class shape for all uses. Working to get our farms the water they need is key to rural prosperity, and I applaud President Trump for making this key issue a top priority of his administration.”

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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