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Bill would reduce red tape, allow for easier reclamation title transfers 

Washington, D.C. – The Reclamation Title Transfer Act of 2018, introduced by U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee without objection today. The legislation would make it less burdensome for non-federal entities, like irrigation districts, to obtain the title for Reclamation projects they operate and have repaid.

“In Idaho, water is the backbone of many vital industries, particularly farming and agriculture,” said Senator Risch. “Unfortunately, it is also bridled with burdensome regulation and bureaucracy. By updating the existing, cumbersome title transfer process, this bill allows water users to obtain full rights to the assets they already manage and have paid for to make better use of these resources for farmers and other users. The unanimous passage of this bill underscores how important and supported it is across all geographical and political boundaries. I look forward to voting for it on the floor.”

Even once entities have met Reclamation eligibility standards and have fully complied with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Congressional action is still required for each individual transfer. The Reclamation Title Transfer Act of 2018 would simplify the title transfer process by authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to facilitate uncomplicated transfers for qualifying entities with a 90-day window for Congressional disapproval. 

Idaho serves as a success story for title transfers. In 1998, the Burley Irrigation District in Southern Idaho became one of the first transferred Reclamation projects. Four of the 30 successful title transfers have occurred in Idaho.

The Idaho Water Users Association, which represents approximately 300 canal companies, irrigation districts, water districts, ground water districts, municipal and public water suppliers, hydroelectric companies, aquaculture interests, agri-businesses, professional firms, and individuals, supports this bill.