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background on this and are awaiting the opportunity in their new positions to look at the history and what should be done about it.
Mr. WHITTEN. We had a witness yesterday who pronounced “rescission” as “recession.” I told him he was the first witness to pronounce it properly.
In connection with your work, has the Office of Management and Budget cited any authority to take the place of the Water Resources Council and sit on these projects? Do they give you any indication of how long they will hold them before they will let you proceed?
Mr. BERG. It was tied to an Executive Order, in fact two Executive Orders that involved our fairly small projects compared to the large projects of the Corps, the Bureau of Reclamation and so forth. We were kind of caught because of our water resource orientation in that whole process.
AUTHORIZATION OF WATERSHED PROJECTS When our projects reach a certain size and expenditure level, they come to the committees by law for approval. Because we were part of the independent review process, this whole activity is unclear and I think we are waiting for the proper time for an analysis of what should be done.
Mr. MYERS. Mr. Chairman, would you yield?
Mr. MYERS. Some of the projects used to be originated by the Committee on Agriculture, the authorization committee. We did not wait for you to come. We directed the Department as to what projects we wanted built. Have we gotten away from that where the Agriculture Committee waits for you to come to them?
Mr. BERG. Mr. Myers, your Committee was doing the proper thing but they were doing it after the projects had been submitted through the process we had working earlier. They had come through a review process within the agency, within the Department, and on to OMB for transmittal to Congress for their consideration.
Mr. MYERS. Fifteen years ago we were doing it that way?
Mr. BERG. Yes, you have been doing that since the beginning of the Act.
Mr. MYERS. I thought we had a separate subcommittee and we originally told the Department which ones to move forward on.
Mr. BERG. There is no question about that. You had the complete say once the projects were here whether they should go forward or be amended or withdrawn.
Mr. MYERS. Do you not have a number of those projects which have already had the planning stage completed waiting in the pipeline?
Mr. BERG. Yes.
Mr. MYERS. The Committee on Agriculture could right now have plenty of these projects to direct you to go ahead and continue and then you would be in violation of the law if you let OMB or anyone else derail this program. You would have to come back to Congress for a deferral decision, would you not?
Mr. BERG. This gets complicated. Once the project is approved, then we move into this business as to whether we can have a new construction start. That is where—— Mr. MYERs. Excuse me for interrupting. That would be a decision Congress makes. If they direct you to go ahead and start the new start, you have one of two choices: either to offer a rescission back to Congress or a deferral. You would have to take one of those two courses. You could not just hold it. Mr. BERG. We agree totally. Once the appropriation process has become law and it does order us to go ahead with construction starts, we do move into that setting. The ones we are talking about that are backlogged in terms of not coming forward for approval have not yet reached the point that you could say that. Mr. MYERs. As I understand it, the final decision really rests with Congress. The Administration, the President, Office of Management and Budget, or you would only recommend and ask for Congress to take further action. Ultimately it is going to be up to Congress to decide whether we take action on these projects. Mr. BERG. It finally comes down to the matter of what should be done about the construction starts and the amount of funds we have available to do the work that has already been approved. Mr. MYERs. That is right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
NEED FOR SCS
Mr. WHITTEN. The watershed program is very important, and the need for it is seen most clearly in California and all over the country where more and more land is going to concrete. The watershed program, along with agricultural conservation, is really the basis of the need for the Soil Conservation Service. Do you see any change in the need? Does the problem get larger? Are we making progress, slipping back, or staying even as your personnel has declined? Mr. BERG. Mr. Chairman, the valuable thing that has been happening in the last ten years, that has helped us hold the line on making good progress in terms of not being totally wiped out, is the fact that state and local governments have stepped forward with their programs that have provided technical assistance and, more recently, cost-share funds. We have been able to continue to make excellent progress in the conservation districts with land users that want to move ahead with soil and water conservation. We have also had some new practices that have come into better use, including our conservation tillage activities that this past year were utilized on about 60 million acres. That practice not only saves soil but it saves fuel. We are getting good results from that. There have been some innovative ideas that have developed that #. helped stretch the dollar further and make the staff-years go urther. Our assessment in terms of the appraisal data we have recently collected shows we do still have some very serious soil erosion problems and some very serious sedimentation problems. The projections in our water resources area are disturbing in that fl.
that proso have some seriespecially our well because we
damage costs will continue to grow at the rate we are moving on
We also have some serious problems in terms of the utilization of our irrigation water and especially our well water.
Mr. WHITTEN. We ask these questions because we have read about the problems in California, and it is frightening to see the same things happening in other parts of the country.
Could you spell out in more detail, by state, the major part of this contribution?
Mr. BERG. I will provide some tables for the record which show the nonfederal contributions of funds and services to soil and water conservation programs.
The information follows:)
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Soil Conservation Service
Fiscal Year 1980
National Summary Estimates
PRIVATE & OTHER
AND COMMERCIAL INST
624,000 514, 370
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Soil Conservation Service
Fiscal Year 1980
National Summary Estimates
ration Districts Program
ON PLAN WATERSHED RC&D PROJ
177,000 337,000 938,000
12,000 111, 760 262, 720
89, 250 174, 150 371, 320
796, 811 1,545, 181 1,618, 180
21,600 86, 800 172,300
277,351 734,550 673,015
21,600 106,500 106,500
78,000 206, 000, 681,000
160, 770 330, 268 748,821
332,292 326, 721 635,808
45,945 150,972 608, 755 965, 316 2,249,973 1,982, 316
152,285 142,519 235, 417 TOTAL 23,201,221 57,692,382 54,191,678
75,030 247, 480
78, 800 56,900
147, 400 1,576,600
356, 969 274,991
177, 344 1,543,996
466,926 537, 036
66,863 1,867, 298
6, 247, 000
5, 125, 571
0 16,086, 478
679,655 11,246,384 253,804,255
January 23, 1981