S. 997: East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act

S. 997

East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act

Sen. Jon Tester

June 18, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Monday, June 18, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider S. 997, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for approval. The bill was introduced in the Senate on May 12, 2011, by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) where it was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Recourses. The bill  was approved in the Senate by unanimous consent on November 2, 2011. S. 997 was sent to the House without amendment and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a markup and reported the bill on June 7, 2012.


Bill Summary

s. 997, would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to extend an existing contract for water services between the U.S. and the East Bench Irrigation District in southwestern Montana. Under the bill, the contract would be extended for four years or until a new long-term contract is executed, whichever is earlier.  This contract was executed in 1958 and expired on December 31, 2005. Subsequent federal appropriations acts have extended the 1958 contract for two year durations. With this contract the East Bench irrigation District would be authorized to being to provide water to farmers, ranchers, and the general public for use once again.


The East Bench Irrigation District (EBID) covers 28,000 acres and is located in Beaverhead and Madison Counties in southwest Montana. It receives water from the federal Clark Canyon Dam at the head of the Beaverhead River. The East Bench Irrigation District supports farmers and ranchers in southwest Montana as well as providing drinking water and energy for the region. The EBID’s long-term Water Service Contract with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) expired at the end of 2005. EBID and the BOR have sought the required District Court confirmation of a tentative new agreement, but the contract is currently held up in a District Court appeals process. Congressional appropriations bills have extended the existing water rights for terms of up to two years, but the last extension expired at the end of 2009.  Members of the EBID are seeking a longer extension in a stand-alone measure.  If S. 997 were approved by the House and signed by the President, the existing water contract would be extended through the end of 2013


Based on information from the Bureau of Reclamation, CBO estimates that enacting S. 997, would have no impact on the federal budget.