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Bill Introduced March 5, 1998

Full Text of the "Sonny Bono Memorial Salton Sea Remediation Act"


S. 1716

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the "Sonny Bono Memorial Salton Sea Restoration Act".

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds that

(1) the Salton Sea, located in Imperial County and Riverside County, California, is an economic and environmental resource of national importance;

(2) the Salton Sea is a critical component of the Pacific flyway;

(3) the concentration of salinity or pollutants in the Salton Sea has contributed to the recent deaths of migratory waterfowl;

(4) the Salton Sea is critical as a reservoir for irrigation and municipal and stormwater drainage;

(5) the Salton Sea provides benefits to surrounding communities and nearby irrigation and municipal water users;

(6) remediating the Salton Sea will provide national and international benefits; and

(7) Federal, State, and local governments have a shared responsibility to assist in remediating the Salton Sea.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

In this Act:

(1) Salton sea authority. -- The term "Salton Sea Authority" means the Joint Powers Authority established under the laws of the State of California by a Joint Power Agreement signed on June 2, 1993.

(2) Secretary. -- The term "Secretary" means the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Commissioner of Reclamation.

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SEC. 4. SALTON SEA RESTORATION ACTION PLAN.

(a) In General. -- As soon as practicable after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary, in accordance with the memorandum of understanding entered into under subsection (f), shall prepare an action plan for restoring the Salton Sea in California.

(b) Contents. -- The action plan shall consist of

(1) a study of the feasibility of various alternatives for remediating the Salton Sea;

(2) the selection of 1 or more practicable and cost- effective options for remediating the Salton Sea; and

(3) the development of a remediation plan that will implement the options.

(c) Objectives. -- In preparing the action plan, the Secretary shall evaluate options that will

(1) reduce and stabilize the overall salinity of the Salton Sea to a level between 35 and 40 parts per thousand;

(2) stabilize the surface elevation of the Salton Sea to a level that is between 240 feet below sea level and 230 feet below sea level;

(3) restore habitat and reclaim water quality over the long term to promote healthy fish and wildlife resources and their habitats in the Salton Sea;

(4) enhance the potential for recreational uses and economic development of the Salton Sea; and

(5) ensure the continued use of the Salton Sea as a reservoir for irrigation and municipal and stormwater drainage.

(d) Options. -- In evaluating options under the action plan, the Secretary shall

(1) consider
(A) using impoundments to segregate a portion of the waters of the Salton Sea in 1 or more evaporation ponds located in the Salton Sea basin;

(B) pumping water out of the Salton Sea;

(C) augmenting the flow of water into the Salton Sea;

(D) improving the quality of wastewater discharges from Mexico (including discharges from the Alamo River, the Whitewater River, and the New River) and from other water users in the Salton Sea basin;

(E) implementing any other economically feasible remediation options; and

(F) implementing any combination of the actions described in subparagraphs (A) through (E); and

(2) limit the options to economically feasible and proven technologies.

(e) Factors. In evaluating the feasibility of options under the action plan, the Secretary shall consider

(1) the ability of Federal, tribal, State, and local-ties as the Secretary considers appropriate.

(2) Criteria. -- The memorandum of understanding shall, at a minimum, establish criteria for the evaluation and selection of options under this section, including criteria for determining the magnitude and practicability of costs of construction, operation, and maintenance of each evaluated option.

(Ed Note - section (f) is missing, possible due to mis-labeling)

(g) Relationship to Other Laws.

(1) Reclamation laws.
(A) In general. -- An option recommended by the action plan shall not be subject to the Act of June 17, 1902, and Acts amendatory thereof or supplementary thereto (32 Stat. 388, chapter 1093; 43 U.S.C. 371 et seq.) (including regulations adopted under those Acts).

(B) Nonreimbursable and nonreturnable. -- Funds provided to carry out the option shall be considered nonreimbursable and nonreturnable.

(2) Law of the river. -- An option recommended by the action plan

(A) shall not supersede or otherwise affect any treaty, law, or agreement governing use of water from the Colorado River; and

(B) shall be carried out in a manner that is consistent with rights and obligation of persons under all such treaties, laws, and agreements.

(h) Reports.

(1) Interim report. Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress an interim report on the findings and recommendations of the action plan, including
(A) a summary of options considered for remediating the Salton Sea; and

(B) a recommendation of a preferred option for remediating the Salton Sea.

(2) Final report. -- Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a final report on the findings and recommendations of the action plan, including

(A) a plan to implement the preferred option;

(B) a recommendation for sharing costs to carry out the preferred option, with (at the option of the Secretary) a different cost-sharing formula for capital construction costs than is applied to annual operation, maintenance, energy, and replacement costs; and

(C) the completion of all environmental compliance and permitting activities required for any construction activity under the preferred option.

(i) Authorization of Appropriations. -- There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $30,000,000.

SEC. 5. SALTON SEA RESTORATION PROJECT.

(a) In General. -- Not later than 30 legislative days after the Secretary submits the final report required under section 4(h)(2), the Secretary shall have the authority to carry out a project for remediating the Salton Sea that is based on the preferred option recommended in the final report, unless otherwise directed by Congress.

(b) Legislative Day. -- In subsection (a), the term "legislative day" means any day on which either House of Congress is in session.

(c) Authorization of Appropriations. -- There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $300,000,000.

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SEC. 6. SALTON SEA WILDLIFE RESOURCES STUDIES.

(a) In General. -- Concurrently with the action plan carried out under section 4, the Secretary shall enter into contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements with Federal and non-Federal entities to conduct studies recommended by the Salton Sea Research Management Committee under subsection (b)(1), including studies of hydrology, wildlife pathology, and toxicology relating to the wildlife resources of the Salton Sea.

(b) Salton Sea Research Management Committee

(1) In general. -- The Secretary shall establish a committee, to be known as the "Salton Sea Research Management Committee", to make recommendations to the Secretary on the selection of topics for studies under this section and management of the studies.

(2) Membership. -- The Committee shall be composed of 4 members, of which

(A) 1 member shall be appointed by the Secretary;

(B) 1 member shall be appointed by the Governor of the State of California;

(C) 1 member shall be appointed by the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Tribal Government; and

(D) 1 member shall be appointed by the Salton Sea Authority.

(c) Coordination. -- The Secretary shall ensure that studies under this section are conducted in coordination with appropriate international bodies, Federal agencies, and California State agencies, including

(1) the International Boundary and Water Commission;

(2) the United States Fish and Wildlife Service;

(3) the Environmental Protection Agency;

(4) the California Department of Water Resources;

(5) the California Department of Fish and Game;

(6) the California Resources Agency;

(7) the California Environmental Protection Agency;

(8) the California Regional Water Quality Board; and

(9) California State Parks.

(d) Peer Review. -- The Secretary shall require that studies conducted under this section be subject to peer review.

(e) Authorization of Appropriations. -- There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $7,000,000.

SEC. 7. REDESIGNATION OF SALTON SEA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE RENAMED AS THE SONNY BONO SALTON SEA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE.

(a) In General. -- The Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, in Imperial County, California, shall be known and designated as the "Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge".

(b) References. -- Any reference in a law, map, regulation, document, record, or other paper of the United States to the Refuge referred to in subsection (a) shall be deemed to be a reference to the "Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge".

SEC. 8. EMERGENCY ACTION TO STABILIZE SALTON SEA SALINITY.

If, during the conduct of studies authorized by this Act, the Secretary determines that environmental conditions at the Salton Sea warrant immediate emergency action to stabilize the salinity of the Salton Sea, the Secretary shall immediately submit a report to Congress documenting the conditions and making recommendations for their remediation, together with specific recommendations for actions to be required and the cost of the actions.


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