Memorandum of Agreement Signed to Expedite Reliable Delivery, Supply of Water to the West

By on November 26, 2018

Paul Souza, currently the regional director for the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, has been appointed as the Lead Official in charge of managing the Klamath Irrigation and Central Valley Projects’ compliance with the requirements of the Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West. Souza’s appointment follows the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) last week between Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. The MOA will help to ensure that the Presidential Memorandum is implemented as quickly and smoothly as possible.

President Donald Trump issued the Presidential Memorandum on Oct. 19 directing the Departments of the Interior and Commerce to do what it takes to ensure that western water users have what they need to irrigate millions of acres of farmland and provide water and power to millions of Americans in the West. Uncoordinated regulatory actions diminished the ability of federal, state and local agencies to efficiently deliver water and power to the West in a cost-effective manner for decades. The President’s Memorandum has been issued to remove these roadblocks.

The Presidential Memorandum has directed the Interior and Commerce Departments to take several actions, including:

  • Expediting regulatory actions essential to the operation of water infrastructure while ensuring compliance with the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act;
  • Expanding use of water desalination and water recycling;
  • Improving the information and modeling capabilities related to water availability;
  • Removing unnecessary burdens unique to the operation of the Columbia River Basin’s water infrastructure.

“Streamlining the regulatory process and removing unnecessary burdens on Western infrastructure projects will help ensure the reliable supply and delivery of water in the region,” said Secretary of Commerce Ross. “We look forward to working with the Department of the Interior to remove the red tape preventing the American West from improving the infrastructure it needs to thrive and grow.”

In appointing Souza as the new Lead Official, he becomes the single executive to supervise the implementation of the Presidential Memorandum as it applies to the Klamath Irrigation and Central Valley Projects. He will also be identifying regulations and procedures that potentially burden the projects and developing a proposed plan to suspend, revise or rescind any regulation or procedure that unduly burdens them.

“We look forward to collaborating with the Department of Commerce on reducing the regulatory burden on these critical infrastructure projects,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “This Memorandum moves us one step closer toward ensuring Western water infrastructure can meet the demands of water users today, and in the future.”