A House subcommittee has quietly leapfrogged President Carter's coming national water policy by recommending reinstatement of six of the nine federal water projects killed off last year by the administration.
The move could lead to a resumption of the bitter political battle waged last year between advocates of continuing large-scale federal water projects, most of them in the West and administration official who first provoked the fight but who have sought recently to avoid renewing it.
The Appropriations subcommittee on public wormks recommended this month that nearly $20 million in restudy and construction funds be made available for projects included last year on Carter's controversial "hit list." It also proposed funding for 36 new projects.
The subcommittee report has not been made public.
Administration officials said yesterday they would "uneqiuivocably fight" any attempt to revive projects terminated last year unless they were on a select list designated earlier for restudy. Only one of the subcommittee's six projects is on that list.
In addition to looming problems with the West over water policy, there are fresh indications of opposition from eastern interests.
The president is scheduled to meet today with the watersubcommittee of the National Governors' Association. But two of the eastern representatives said they would not attend.
Aides to Govs. Hugh Carey of New York and Micheal Dukakis of Massachusetts, both Democrats, said they would boycott the meeting because administration officials made clear in preliminary briefings last week that no provision would be made in Carter's water policy for funds to rehabilitate antiquated and crumbing eastern water systems.
"We think it would be a waste of time to go if they're not going to talk about our water problems in the East," a Dukakis aide said yeaterday.
Utah Democrat Scott Matheson, who heads the governors' water subcommittee, will lead the remaining six western members in a plea to Carter to include some help for the East in his water policy statement, due in about a week.
In briefings on water policy, Carter and his advisers have focused so far on the West or on general proposal that would apply nationwide. Last week, Carter made no mention of planned help for the Northeast in a briefing to a group of enviromental.
Carter did tell the enviromentalists he planned to seek $30 million to $50 million for general water management programs. Officials said that could include study of eastern water systems.
The President also said he favored requiring states to contribute 10 percent of annual federal construction appropriations for projects within their borders, and additional noncash contributions.
Federal overseers would also require tighter cost-benefit ratios on proposed new projects, he said.
Presidential and vice presidential aides emphasized last week that they wanted no part of any new fight over the large-scale water projects in the West. Yesterday, however, administration officials said they would fight five of the six projects the House subcommittee has recommended for refunding.
The Appropritations subcommittee report called for construction funds for Merramec Park, Mo., Yatesville Reservoir, Ky., and Narrows Dam, Colo.
Additional money was recommended for restudy of projects at La Farge Lake, Wis., Fruitland Mesa, Colo., and Savery-Pothook, Colo.
Of the six, only Narrows Dam had been on the administration's list of projects acceptable for restudy.
"The others," said an Interior Department official, "we opposed ealier and their termination was looked on as a long-term, not a short-term solution."
In addition to restarting the six projects the House subcommittee recommended outlays for various water projects that would exceed the president's budget recommendations by about $200 million.