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Legislation & Policy Committee Meeting Summary July 22, 2021 Webinar–USGS Ecosystems Mission Area FY2022 Budget Request–Paul Wagner

Committee Recording Saved to ICWP’s YouTube channel:  https://youtu.be/Hi31yFe3mpc

  1. Call to Order—Kirsten Wallace, UMRBA; Chair called to order at 10:03 a.m. Central. 
  • Introductions of Participants on the call:  Kirsten Wallace, Chair; Sue Lowry; Heidi Moltz; Brian Atkins; Brian Dunnigan; Alice Perry; Michael Gremillion; Kevin McClurg; Mark Masters; Jeff Cowley; Bennet Bearden; Richard Friesner; Kim Lutz; Drew Dehoff, John Anderson; Paul Wagner; Peter Evans; Julie Westerlund; Jesse Bradley; Mabel Jones; Owen Mills; Heather Gacek; Kelly Pennington.
  • Updates from Van Scoyoc to committee members—John Anderson—Appropriations mini-busses.  3 bills might be out before Aug. break in House.  Interior thought to be one of them.  Expecting a CR for some if not all of the budgets.  At least until Thanksgiving or the Christmas break is the norm.  Debt ceiling looming as well with a deadline of September and can be a driver in getting other agreements as must pass.  Infrastructure—Senate procedural vote did not pass yesterday; text of bill is not yet ready, so unsuccessful vote not a surprise that members didn’t want to start debate on a bill they haven’t seen.  House waiting on Senate for traditional infrastructure legislation.  $3.5 B package agreed to resolution by House dems on social infrastructure.  Could see an infrastructure package by late fall.  Only 9 legislative days in Sept. 

Mike Connor, Asst. Sec for CW, USACE, hearing went well; no confirmation vote yet, but not seeing any concerns.  Asked about Water Supply Rule and he didn’t see any reason to move forward on something already rejected.  Also asked about Waters of the US and wants to find a lasting solution.  WRDA—Senate may hold a hearing July 28 to get topics for WRDA2022.  Cyber Security at water facilities may get attention in WRDA. PFAS bill coming up on House floor, similar to bill passed by House last year but not picked up by Senate.  House has tried to keep WRDA only USACE and Senate put in EPA CWA topics and House will agree in conference. Energy/Water could be one of first budget bills, Military spending, Ag. Also generally first.  Interior usually more difficult.  Sometimes hold one of the “easier” budgets to help pass more contentious ones by mini-omnibuses. 

  • FY22 President’s Budget Request:  USGS—Paul Wagner, Deputy Director, Ecosystems Mission Area—Please view Paul’s SLIDE DECK HERE for an excellent overview of the programs of the Ecosystems Mission Area as well as an overview of their budget request in the President’s Budget. 
  • Report out of other ICWP committee activities—Work jointly with Interstate Water Management on inter-basin transfer topics?  Drew mentioned that the ICWP Board had discussed the general topic of interstate and Interbasin transfers and that ICWP could hold informational webinars on the subject during Interstate Water Management committee meetings, starting this fall. 
  • Legislation to track: 
    • America Jobs Act—water related opportunities
    • USGS/DOI FY21 Appropriations –House Mark
    • FY22 Stakeholder Letter for USGS Streamgaging-Delivered April 9
    • Support for NOAA-NWS Atlas 14 Precipitation Frequency Estimates (Atlas 14) or other Extreme precipitation estimating tools—PRECIP and FLOODS legislation 
    • WRDA 2022-start to develop topics for member’s requests—if a hearing is held by the Senate in late July, Sue and Kirsten will look at the summary from the hearing for any topics that ICWP may want to add to their priorities for WRDA 2022.  The membership can also be polled for topics. 
    • Infrastructure Discussions /Legislation
  • Fall ICWP Annual Meeting topics—October 12-14, 2021—Philadelphia.  The preliminary agenda and registration information is now up on the ICWP website.  Geoff Bowman, VSA, will be providing an update during the annual meeting. 
  • Other items for the Committee’s consideration—What other agency budget updates would be of interest?   Sue will try to find a speaker to discuss the NOAA/NWS FY2022 Budget request.  US Fish and Wildlife and EPA Office of Water were also suggested for future meetings. 

Jeff Cowley mentioned an effort by Desert Research Institute to support a bill sponsored by Mrs. Lee (NV) to create an OpenET program within the USGS.  $14M to start. 

  •  Set next call or webinar:  Set for Wednesday, September 1 at 10 a.m. Central. 

Legislation and Policy Committee:  Stay abreast of national legislation important to ICWP membership; Educate and advocate for state/interstate positions to Congress and federal agencies

2019 Accomplishments:

  • Submitted a letter on Dept. of Interior Re-organization
  • Sent letter to ASA Rd James regarding PAS funding for full range of authorized purposes
  • Submitted WRDA20 support letter to Senate EPW committee

2020 Accomplishments:

  • Submitted WRDA20 support letters to House T&I committee, Senate EPW and to House and Senate leadership 

Issues for 2021 Workplan

  1. WRDA2022 Preparation Topics
  • USGS Streamgaging support—getting letter to more audiences and reviewing stakeholder list for omissions 
    • Opportunity for a states’ support letter
    • Whether to expand to Water Use and other topics beyond Streamgaging
  • Drought Planning/Preparedness-NIDIS Support (& the DEWS)
    • Baseline funding for USDM
    • Support for a new ag-centric product (better capture flash drought)
  • Reauthorization topics for WUDR
  • National Water Model—promoting water supply forecasting capabilities
  • NOAA/DOI Improved Forecasting Action Plan
  • NWS Atlas 14 –Support for PRECIP legislation
  • Legislation Following:

2021 Action Plan Items

  1. Provide broader leadership on PPA Liability and Indemnification Barriers
    1. Pursue Congressional hearing on this issue
    1. Arrange for meeting with USACE Office of Counsel
  2. Develop Advocacy “How To” webinar series
  3. Discussion of lessons learned at NGWOS basins are added
  4. Facilitate a national conversation on Extreme Precipitation Products and Models
    1. Invite organizations to form coalition to work on issue

Arrange Forum in 2021 to hear current state of Atlas 14 and other non-federal products that provide similar extreme precip estimates