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Water

Letter: Governors offer analysis, recommendations to Army Corps on regulation of "surplus waters"

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Western Governors sent a letter on Feb. 27, 2017, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) about its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to govern the use of its reservoir projects within the Missouri River Basin, pursuant to Section 6 of the Flood Control Act of 1944. The Governors assert that as the primary authority over water management and allocation within their borders, states must not be required to relinquish any rights to natural flows of rivers which have been impounded by USACE. In addition, USACE must define “surplus water” to exclude natural flows which would have occurred without the development of federal water projects.

LETTER: Vessel Incidental Discharge Act

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on Nov. 16, 2016, to Congressional and Armed Services Committee Leaders to express concerns regarding efforts in Congress to preempt state authorities to protect our waters from aquatic invasive species and water pollution. The letter focused on current versions of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, and requested state consultation  before advancing statutory changes that would preempt state authorities.

LETTER: Governors encourage development of west-wide drought relief legislation

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Western Governors sent a letter on May 13, 2016, to leadership of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to commend their hearing to discuss pending western drought legislation. The Governors highlighted the need for a comprehensive, west-wide response to drought and asked that the letter be included in the hearing record.

LETTER: NRCS Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting programs

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on March 17, 2016, to leadership of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies in the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations to express support for adequate funding of the Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The letter emphasized that data collected from these programs is "integral to water supply management decisions for states, utilities, reservoir operators, and farmers."

COMMENTS: Protecting Water Quality From Forest Road Discharges

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Western Governors sent comments on Feb. 12, 2016, in response to the Environmental Protection Agency's request for Information on Existing Programs That Protect Water Quality From Forest Road Discharges. The comments highlighted states' federally-recognized authority to manage and allocate water within their boundaries. The outreach explained, "Clean water is essential to strong economies and quality of life. In most of the West, water is a scarce resource that must be managed with sensitivity to social, environmental and economic values. States are in the best position to manage the water within their borders because of their unique understanding of the values."

LETTER: Governors support comprehensive, Western drought legislation

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Western Governors sent a letter on Nov. 24, 2015, to Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources leadership commending their efforts to craft comprehensive Western drought legislation. The letter signed by WGA Chairman and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and WGA Vice Chair and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock conveyed the position of Western Governors on water resources management, shared their policy resolution Water Resource Management in the West, and conveyed policy solutions for the Committee to consider. Among other things, the Governors proposed the creation of a budget-neutral federal loan program that will make it possible for Western states to secure financing on reasonable terms to complete important water resources management projects.

TESTIMONY: Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association, testified on June 2, 2015 before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The testimony shared the perspective of the Western Governors regarding the wide-ranging consequences of drought and highlighted their policy actions to combat water scarcity. The testimony also provided an overview of the Western Governors' Drought Forum and its efforts to share best practices for water management and drought response.

TESTIMONY: James D. Ogsbury, WGA Executive Director, before House Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), testified on April 14, 2015, on behalf of the WGA before the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans. The testimony shared the perspective of the Western Governors regarding recent federal water-related regulatory proposals, including the U.S. Forest Service's proposed directive on groundwater resource management and the proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to redefine the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

LETTER: Increased State Consultation on Tribal Authority under Clean Water Act

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Western Governors sent a letter on March 30, 2015 to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting increased consultation with states during development of regulatory efforts regarding Tribal Authority under the Clean Water Act. In particular, the Governors were concerned with the process by which tribes obtain "Treatment in a Similar Manner as a State" (TAS) status, noting: "Many western states count a dozen or more Indian tribes within their boundaries...This creates a more complicated regulatory environment for water managers and users." The governors add that "Congress’ imperative to avoid potential conflicts can only be achieved if states have a substantive role in the development of the proposals for tribal TAS authority and in future tribal action under the CWA."

LETTER: WGA advocates for funding of Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting programs

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on March 12, 2015, to express support for adequate funding of the Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. WGA's Policy Resolution Water Resource Management in the West, which expressly supports this program, states that “basic information on the status, trends and projections of water resource availability is essential to sound water management.” The letter was sent to Sen. Jerry Moran, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, and Rep. Sam Farr.

LETTER: WGA supports funding for Cooperative Water Program and National Streamflow Information Program

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on March 12, 2015, to express support for adequate funding of the Cooperative Water Program and National Streamflow Information Program, both administered by the Department of Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey. WGA notes "this data is integral to water supply management decisions for states, utilities, reservoir operators, and farmers ... and particularly useful as drought persists in Nevada, the Pacific Coast states and the Southern Great Plains." The letter was sent to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Tom Udall, Rep. Ken Calvert, Rep. Betty McCollum and Suzette Kimball, Acting Director, U.S. Geological Survey.

COMMENTS: Governors submit comments on definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act

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Western Governors sent the following comments on Nov. 14, 2014, to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy regarding the jurisdiction of the Waters of the United States Under the Clean Water Act as published in the Federal Register. The Governors noted "States have significant authority and responsibility regarding water management. It is imperative that any policies developed by EPA and the Corps affecting water resources be crafted in a manner consistent with state laws governing water allocation and water quality." 

COMMENTS: USFS Proposed Directive on Groundwater Resource Management

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Western Governors submitted comments on Oct. 2, 2014, to the U.S. Forest Service regarding FS-2014-0001- Proposed Directive on Groundwater Resource Management, Forest Service Manual 2560. The Governors stated, "Clean water is essential to strong economies and quality of life... Because of their unique understanding of these needs, states are in the best position to manage the water within their borders."

LETTER: Comment period extension requested for proposed rule regarding jurisdiction of Clean Water Act

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Western Governors sent a letter on Aug. 27, 2014, to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy requesting an extension of the comment period on the proposed rule regarding the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. The Governors expressed, "we are concerned that this proposed rulemaking could impinge upon state authority in water management."

COMMENTS: WGA on water rights for ski areas on National Forest System lands

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The Western Governors' Association sent the following comments on Aug. 21, 2014, to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) regarding a proposed directive concerning water rights for ski areas on National Forest System lands. The comments noted: "Western Governors urge USFS to continue to engage with states to make sure that the final directive respects state authority and fully addresses state concerns."

COMMENTS: WGA on proposed directive for water quality protection on National Forest System lands

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The Western Governors' Association sent the following comments to the U.S. Forest Service on Aug. 21, 2014, regarding the Proposed Directives for National Best Management Practices for Water Quality Protection on National Forest System Lands (FS-2014-0003-0001) and its potential to impact state authority to manage water. The comments note: "The proposed directive appears to go beyond its purported goal of water quality protection, encroaching upon the states’ water resource management authority." 

LETTER: USFS groundwater rule

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Western Governors sent a letter on July 2, 2014, to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack expressing strong concerns about the Forest Service's Proposed Directive on Groundwater Resource Management. The Governors highlighted, "States are the exclusive authority for allocating, administering, protecting and developing groundwater resources, and they are primarily responsible for water supply planning within their boundaries," and reminded that both Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court recognized this authority. The letter also included a list of questions the Governors requested to be addressed.

MOU: WGA and NOAA sign agreement to work together to improve drought and flooding preparedness

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WGA Chairman Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and WGA Vice Chairman Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on June 9, 2014, with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan outlining cooperative work to improve data and analyses to help policymakers prepare for and respond to drought, flooding and wildfire. The MOU explained, "As drought has become increasingly persistent and severe in the Western states – and as large floods have caused devastation in Western communities – the economic and social impacts are particularly damaging."

LETTER: Comment period for Clean Water Act jurisdiction rulemaking

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Western Governors sent a letter on May 30, 2014, to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy asking for an extension of the comment period for the Clean Water Act jurisdiction rulemaking. The Governors wrote, "States are co-regulators of water quality and the primary managers of water resources within their borders. Before proceeding further with this proposal, your agencies should take the time to engage in true, substantive consultation with states."

LETTER: WGA & WSWC urge EPA to appeal court decision on water transfers rule

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The Western Governors' Association and the Western States Water Council sent a letter on May 12, 2014, to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy urging the EPA to appeal a recent court decision regarding National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for water transfers. The letter highlighted, "The court’s decision is particularly troubling because it incorrectly questions state primacy over water allocation," and further explained, "If affirmed, the decision could upset the long-established federal-state balance regarding water quality protections and rights to water use."

LETTER: Support for reauthorization of WRDA bill

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The Western Governors' Association (WGA) sent a letter on April 10, 2014, to House and Senate Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) conferees expressing support for reauthorization and inclusion of several western specific programs. The letter noted, "Whether for storage, drought, flooding or general allocation, proper water management is essential. WGA believes reauthorization of WRDA is critically important to the West in addressing these vital issues."

LETTER: Support for collection of basic snow and water data

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The Western Governors' Association sent letters on April 9, 2014, to Senate and House Appropriation Committee leadership expressing support for adequate funding of the west-wide Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting Program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The letter expresses the importance of this program, noting, "basic information on the status, trends and projections of water resource availability is essential to sound water management."

LETTER: Clean Water Act jurisdiction rulemaking

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Western Governors sent a letter on March 25, 2014, to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy with respect to pending rulemaking regarding the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. The Governors expressed concern that the rulemaking was developed without sufficient state consultation and "could impinge upon state authority in water management." The letter stated, "As co-­regulators of water resources, states should be fully consulted and engaged in any process that may affect the management of their waters."

LETTER: Governors support drought information system legislation

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The Western Governors' Association (WGA) sent letters on Feb. 7, 2014, to Congress transmitting Western Governors' support for H.R. 2431, legislation to reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). Western Governors promoted the creation of NIDIS in 2006, and WGA has since worked with partners to champion the system’s deployment. The letter underscored the critical importance of the system, noting, "NIDIS provides the kind of authoritative, objective and timely drought information that farmers, water managers, decision-makers, and local governments require to prepare for and respond to drought."

LETTER: WGA and WSWC write to Rep. Hastings in support of recognition of state authority in Water Rights Protection Act

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The Western Governors' Association and Western States Water Council sent a letter on Nov. 14, 2013 to Rep. Doc Hastings, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, to support the recognition of state authority in water management within a bill before the committee -- The Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 3198). The letter emphasized the Western Governors' position that "states have the pivotal role in allocating, administering, protecting and developing water resources."

LETTER: Support for reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act

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Western Governors sent a letter on Oct. 18, 2013, to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee supporting reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The letter emphasized the distinction between Western and Eastern water concerns and noted, "The responsible development and management of water resources is particularly critical for Western states. Our region routinely faces both scarcity issues...and very real flood management challenges."

LETTER: Army Corps of Engineers' surplus water rulemaking

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on Aug. 21, 2013, to Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy expressing Western Governors' interest and concerns related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' pending rulemaking on the definition and treatment of surplus water in Corps reservoirs. The letter explained, "It is critical that this important undertaking recognize the West’s unique hydrology and legal doctrines, as well as Congress’ longstanding deference to state law with respect to the allocation and use of water. Water belongs to the states, which have exclusive and Constitutional authority over its consumptive use and the allocation and adjudication of water rights."

LETTER: WGA supports reauthorization of National Integrated Drought Information System

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The Western Governors' Association (WGA) sent letters on July, 23, 2013, to sponsors of a bill to reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). Western Governors promoted the creation of NIDIS in 2006, and WGA has since worked with partners to champion the system’s deployment. The letter explained, "Drought contributes to forest and rangeland fires, degrades growing conditions for farmers, and poses threats to municipal and industrial water supplies. NIDIS provides the kind of authoritative, objective and timely drought information that farmers, water managers, decision-makers, and local governments require to prepare for and respond to drought."

Letter: Governors support reauthorization of National Integrated Drought Information System

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Western Governors sent a letter on May 9, 2013, to Congressional leaders to express support for the Drought Information Act of 2013, which would reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). The governors emphasized the significant impacts that drought has on life in the West, including forest and rangeland fires, shortages agricultural products, and threats to municipal water supplies. The letter explained, "NIDIS provides authoritative, objective, and timely information about drought that farmers, water managers, decision makers, and local governments need in order to prepare for and respond to drought."

LETTER: Governors support reauthorization of Water Resources Development Act

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Western Governors sent a letter on May 7, 2013, to leadership of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works to commend their work in advancing legislation to reauthorize of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The letter explained, "Whether for drought, flooding, or simply general allocation, proper water management is essential. WGA believes reauthorization of WRDA is critically important to the West in managing all of those issues."

TESTIMONY: Exploring the Effects of Drought on Energy and Water Management

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association, testified on Apr. 25, 2013, before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources at the hearing, "Exploring the Effects of Drought on Energy and Water Management." The testimony shared the perspective of the Western Governors regarding drought preparedness and monitoring and urged the reauthoriztion of the National Integrated Drought Information System. The testimony also included an overview of drought's effects on energy and water management.

LETTER: Governors support reauthorization of National Integrated Drought Information System

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Western Governors sent a letter on Oct. 25, 2012, to leadership of the House Science Committee and Senate Commerce Committee to express support for legislation to reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). The letter emphasized the significant impacts that drought can have on life in the West and explained, "NIDIS provides authoritative, objective and timely information on drought that farmers, ranchers, water managers, and policy makers need to prepare for and respond to drought." 

LETTER: WGA concerned by Federal Trustees' groundwater damages claim

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter on May 25, 2012, to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to express concern that Federal Trustees asserted claims for damages to groundwater in a natural resource damage case in New Mexico. Claims by Federal Trustees of this nature are unprecedented and are of great concern to the Western States. The letter emphasized the critical nature of this issue: "The ramifications of such legal position extend to the very heart of the Western States exclusive ownership and/or management and control of the groundwater resources within their respective boundaries."