H.R. 4508, To amend the East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act to permit the Secretary of the Interior to extend the contract for certain water services

H.R. 4508

To amend the East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act to permit the Secretary of the Interior to extend the contract for certain water services

Date
July 22, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, July 22, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 4508, To amend the East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act to permit the Secretary of the Interior to extend the contract for certain water services, under suspension of the rules.  H.R. 4508 was introduced on April 29, 2014 by Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) and was referred to the House Natural Resources Committee.  The bill was marked up on June 19, 2014 and was ordered reported by unanimous consent.[1]

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[1] House Committee Report 113-534.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4508 “authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to extend a water contract between the United States and the East Bench Irrigation District until December 31, 2019.”[2]

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[2] Id. at 1.

Background

The Clark Canyon Dam and Reservoir, which are owned by the Bureau of Reclamation, are located in southwestern Montana.[3]  “This federal project annually supplies irrigation water for 28,000 acres within the East Bench Irrigation District (EBID) pursuant to a 1958 contract.  The contract expired on December 31, 2005, prompting EBID and Reclamation to negotiate a new contract.”[4]  Federal law and Montana law require that any new contract between Reclamation and any irrigation district receive approval by a Montana District court.[5]

“In 2006, EBID filed a petition with the Montana Fifth Judicial District Court seeking confirmation of the execution of its renewed contract with Reclamation.  The Court convened a hearing in December 2006 and one objection to the confirmation was filed.  Due to this objection, the case has been referred to the Montana Water Court, which has yet to rule on this case.  Congress has extended the 1958 contract several times since its expiration.  Under federal law, extensions provide an irrigation district an absolute right under federal law to negotiate a new contract with Reclamation as long as the existing contract is still valid and binding on all parties.”[6]  H.R. 4508 extends the existing contract for six years, or until a new contract is executed.  The bill does not prejudice the ongoing court proceedings surrounding a new contract, but simply maintains the current contract while the issue is resolved.[7]

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[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id. at 1-2.
[6] Id. at 2.
[7] Id.

Cost

According to CBO estimates, implementing H.R. 4508 would not impact the federal budget.  In addition, the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.