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House Passes Bill to Support Critical Water Infrastructure for Tribes, Local Communities


WASHINGTON, D.C., July 12, 2018 -

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3281, the Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act. Introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), this bipartisan bill establishes a voluntary, streamlined process for local utilities, states or tribes to pursue title transfers.

“Our communities can’t flourish without access to water. That’s why this bill provides needed reforms that give localities more control over their own water resources. We need to bring our nation’s water infrastructure into the 21st century. This bill does that while saving money for taxpayers and providing the flexibility needed for water users in our western states. I’m grateful for Rep. Lamborn’s hard work on this legislation and look forward to working with the Senate to move this bill to the president’s desk,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) stated.  

“I am pleased to have introduced and help pass the Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act. This Act will streamline the administrative process and remove cumbersome, bureaucratic hurdles for the Interior Department. Federal water projects have been a critical asset to many Colorado farmers for generations. The Bureau of Reclamation has played an essential role in constructing many of these facilities. However, over the years, populations in the west have continued to grow while the infrastructure aged. Many facilities are in disrepair and require new investment. Uncertain federal funding and burdensome regulation cripple development of critical water resources. This Act maintains congressional oversight while granting local water districts the flexibility to fulfill the needs of their communities. H.R. 3281 allows districts to leverage local investment and encourages local control. I support this Act to ensure Colorado’s agriculture will continue to prosper and our communities to grow and flourish,” Rep. Lamborn said.  

Background:

Currently, local water managers, who are already responsible for operation and maintenance of Bureau of Reclamation water projects, require an Act of Congress to take ownership of a federally owned water facility.

H.R. 3281 allows the administration to develop title transfer agreements with utilities and authorize the transfer administratively, while still retaining Congressional oversight over each transfer.

Stakeholder support for this legislation includes:

“The Family Farm Alliance strongly supports this legislation. Under currently law, Reclamation can contract out operation and maintenance to nonfederal entities such as water districts, but can’t transfer ownership without an act of Congress. This bill would authorize Reclamation to transfer ownership to other entities administratively and provide Congress a window to disapprove the transfer.” – Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance

“We appreciate your leadership on the many issues facing our nation’s water suppliers and urge passage of H.R. 3281. Once enacted into law, H.R. 3281 will ensure there is a workable title transfer process. Without it, irrigation districts seeking a title transfer would have to reply on Congress to specifically authorizes their transfer. To date, Congress has only authorized 30 transfers.” – Charles Freeman, district manager of the Kennewick Irrigation District

“The Authority commends the Committee and the sponsors of H.R. 3281 for developing legislation to facilitate the title transfer process, and the Authority supports its passage by the House. H.R. 3281 would streamline the title transfer process while continuing to guard the interests of the public, the environment and the Federal Treasury. In doing so, the legislation would provide an incentive for the Authority and similar agencies West-wide to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of title transfer and to actively engage Reclamation in discussions that could produce benefits for water users and the Federal government alike.” – Jason Phillips, CEO of the Friant Water Authority

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Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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