H.R. 4562, To authorize early repayment of obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation within the Northport Irrigation District in the State of Nebraska

H.R. 4562

To authorize early repayment of obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation within the Northport Irrigation District in the State of Nebraska

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

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, July 22, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 4562, To authorize early repayment of obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation within the Northport Irrigation District in the State of Nebraska, under suspension of the rules.  H.R. 4562 was introduced on May 1, 2014 by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) 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 113-536.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4562 authorizes landowners within the Northport Irrigation District in the State of Nebraska to make early repayments of their obligations under a water contract with the Bureau of Reclamation.  Landowners who repay their portion of the obligation “will no longer be subject to federal acreage limitations and paperwork requirements.”[2]

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[2] Id. at 1.

Background

“Under federal law, any irrigation district that receives contracted water from a Bureau of Reclamation facility must repay its allocated portion of the capital costs of the federal water project.  These repayment costs are typically set forth in long-term contracts between the irrigation district and the federal government.”[3]

The Northport Irrigation District in the western part of Nebraska receives water from the federal North Platte Project.[4]  The water is transported 80 miles from the reservoir, passing through the Tri-State Canal, which is privately owned by the Farmers Irrigation District.[5]  “In return for allowing the water to be conveyed through the Tri-State canal, Farmers receives compensation in the form of a ‘carriage fee’ from Northport. . . . [I]f the amount of the carriage fee owed to Farmers . . . is more than $8,000 per year, Northport is not obligated to make its annual capital repayment to the federal government.”[6]

Because carriage fees have exceeded $8,000 since the early 1950s, Northport’s capital debt has remained at $923,000.  “As long as Northport owes the debt, its landowners are subject to the 960 irrigated acre planting limitation and paperwork requirements that must be met prior to getting water each year . . . .”[7]  Several landowners within the Northport Irrigation District wish to retire and transfer their property to family members who already own land.[8]  However, the combined land amount will exceed the 960 irrigated acre planting limitation.[9]  These landowners “are willing to repay their portion of the capital repayment obligations owed to the federal government to avoid being subject to the federal requirements,” but are prohibited from doing so under federal law.[10]  H.R. 4562 permits them to make such early payments.

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

Cost

According to CBO estimates, implementing H.R. 4562 would not significantly impact the federal budget.  The bill would reduce direct spending by $440,000 over the 2015-2024 period, and would not affect revenues.

Additional Information

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