In order to assure an adequate supply of food to the Nation and to promote the economic vitality of the High Plains Region, the Secretary of Commerce (hereinafter referred to in this section as the “Secretary”), acting through the Economic Development Administration, in cooperation with the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Chief of Engineers, and appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies, and the private sector, is authorized and directed to study the depletion of the natural resources of those regions of the States of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska presently utilizing the declining water resources of the Ogallala acquifer, and to develop plans to increase water supplies in the area and report thereon to Congress, together with any recommendations for further congressional action. In formulating these plans, the Secretary is directed to consider all past and ongoing studies, plans, and work on depleted water resources in the region, and to examine the feasibility of various alternatives to provide adequate water supplies in the area including, but not limited to, the transfer of water from adjacent areas, such portion to be conducted by the Chief of Engineers to assure the continued economic growth and vitality of the region. The Secretary shall report on the costs of reasonably available options, the benefits of various options, and the costs of inaction. If water transfer is found to be a part of a reasonable solution, the Secretary, as part of his study, shall include a recommended plan for allocating and distributing water in an equitable fashion, taking into account existing water rights and the needs for future growth of all affected areas. An interim report, with recommendations, shall be transmitted to the Congress no later than October 1, 1978, and a final report, with recommendations, shall be transmitted to Congress not later than July 1, 1980. A sum of $6,000,000 is authorized to be appropriated for the purposes of carrying out this section.