Today, the first piece of legislation Congressman Paul Gosar, DDS (AZ-01) introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 489, passed on the floor the United States House of Representatives.
“My legislation is a common-sense solution to the bureaucratic wrangling that has occurred between the Department of Interior and Agriculture that has compromised the routine maintenance of critical water infrastructure in Arizona,” Congressman Gosar said. “I am humbled by the strong bipartisan support the bill received, and I thank all of the local and federal stakeholders who came to the table. When we work together and put the people first, we can break the partisan stalemate in Washington and solve the problems facing our communities.”
Mayor Kenny Evans, Town of Payson noted upon the passage of the bill “We are deeply pleased that Congressman Gosar, as a Freshman, was able to pass this important piece of legislation. Having a sustainable supply of water is important for the future of our small community and we appreciate the Congressman’s efforts to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that has been holding this project up.”
The C.C. Cragin project spans across federally owned land in the Coconino and Tonto National Forests and is a vital part of the Salt River Project (SRP) Federal Reclamation Project. The C.C. Cragin Dam plays an essential role in providing water for the City of Phoenix and Gila County. Towns like Payson and other neighboring communities rely on this pipeline to supply municipal drinking water to the community.
H.R. 489 is a common-sense solution that eliminates government red tape and provides a clear approval process for the Salt River Project (SRP) to maintain the C.C. Cragin Dam and Reservoir Project. Specifically, the bill grants the Department of Interior exclusive jurisdiction to manage the project and grants the Department of Agriculture administrative jurisdiction over land management activities that do not conflict or adversely affect the operation, maintenance, or replacement/repair of the project. Having a single agency overseeing the project remains important, if not more important, now that the project is operational. The Bureau of Reclamation has the expertise to conduct oversight on water supply projects, and does so on many other projects that are within National Forests. It is important to note that this bill upholds all existing environmental laws and has no cost to the taxpayer.
On May 12th, the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held a hearing on the legislation. During the hearing, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, SRP Associate General Manager John Sullivan, and representatives from both the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service all testified that H.R. 489 is vital to the long-term management of C.C. Cragin Dam and Reservoir Project, and would bring about the necessary economic certainty for the Town of Payson and other impacted communities.