This bill would make the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to act as the lead federal agency for coordinating with 17 western states for issuing permits to construct new water storage projects on land managed by the Depts. of the Interior or Agriculture. When the BOR receives an application for such a project, it’d notify other federal agencies and receive from them a timeline for completing that agency’s responsibilities, environmental review materials, and all relevant project data.
A state in which a qualifying project is being considered would have the option of being a cooperating agency and require state agencies with relevant oversight powers to fulfill the same requirements as federal agencies.
The BOR’s primary responsibilities would be to:
Serve as the point of contact for applicants, state agencies, Indian tribes, and others regarding qualifying projects;
Coordinate preparation of unified environmental documentation that will serve as the basis for all federal decisions necessary to authorize the use of federal funds for qualifying projects;
Coordinate all federal agency reviews necessary for the development and construction of qualifying projects.
The Dept. of the Interior would be authorized to accept and expend funds contributed by a non-federal public entity to expedite the evaluation of a permit after issuing a public notice. Interior must ensure that all final permit decisions are made available to the public, including on the Internet.