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Notice

Rate Adjustments for Indian Irrigation Facilities

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior.

ACTION:

Notice of rate adjustments.

SUMMARY:

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) owns or has an interest in irrigation facilities located on various Indian reservations throughout the United States. The BIA establishes irrigation assessment rates to recover its costs to administer, operate, maintain, and rehabilitate certain of those facilities. We are notifying you that we have adjusted the irrigation assessment rates at several of our irrigation facilities where we are required to recover our full costs of operation and maintenance.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

The irrigation assessment rates shown in the tables were effective on January 1, 2002.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For details about a particular BIA irrigation facility, please use the tables in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section to contact the regional or agency office where the facility is located.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A Notice of Proposed Rate Adjustment was published in the Federal Register on March 8, 2002 (67 FR 10748-10752), to adjust the irrigation rates at several BIA irrigation facilities. A correction of the March 8, 2002, notice was published on April 26, 2002, at 67 FR 20820-20321 for all units of the Wapato Irrigation Project. The public and interested parties were provided an opportunity to submit written comments during the 60 day-periods subsequent to March 8, 2002, and April 26, 2002.

Did the BIA Receive Any Comments on the Proposed Irrigation Assessment Rate Adjustments?

Written comments were received only for the proposed irrigation assessment rate adjustment at the Blackfeet Irrigation Project, Montana (Project).

What Issues Were of Concern by the Commentators?

All of the comments were concerned with one or more of three issues: (1) Consultation with stakeholders; (2) how are funds expended on operation and maintenance; and (3) the impact of a rate increase on the local agricultural economy.

How Does BIA Respond to the Concern of Consultation With Stakeholders?

Consultations between stakeholders and any of the BIA irrigation facilities are ongoing through local meetings held periodically at different locations convenient to the stakeholders of the individual irrigation facilities. At those consultation meetings, any issue of concern by a stakeholder can be brought up and discussed such as water operations, facility maintenance, and financial management. For example, a BIA representative attended meetings of the Seville Water Users Association of Start Printed Page 63675the Project on May 27, 2000, April 30, 2001, and April 25, 2002. During those meetings, the BIA representative notified stakeholders of the need for an increase in irrigation assessment rates. Concurrent with the Federal Register notice of March 8, 2002, the local BIA agency at the Project also publicized the proposed rate adjustment in a local newspaper asking for comments.

How Does BIA Respond to the Concern of How Funds Are Expended for Operation and Maintenance?

The BIA's records for expenditures on all of its irrigation facilities are public records and available for review by stakeholders or interested parties. These records can be reviewed during normal business hours at the individual agency offices. To review these records, stakeholders and interested parties are directed to contact the BIA representative at the specific facility serving them using the tables in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

How Does BIA Respond to the Concern of an Irrigation Assessment Rate Increase and Its Impact on the Local Agricultural Economy?

The irrigation operations and maintenance rate for the 2001 irrigation season at the Project was $11.00 per acre. Based on a financial analysis for the 2002 irrigation season, the rate to sustain the Project should be $15.85 per acre. The BIA realized that a $4.85 rate increase, a 44 percent increase over the 2001 rate, had the potential to place an economic strain on the agricultural community served by the facility. The BIA took this into consideration and is raising the 2002 assessment rate $2.00, an increase of 18 percent, for a total assessment rate for the 2002 irrigation season of $13.00. This is an increase of less than half necessary to sustain the facility. To accommodate the lesser increase, the facility will continue to defer some maintenance. A rate of $13.00 per acre will provide funding for operation of the facility and perform minimal maintenance.

Does the BIA Have Any Other Justification for Increasing Its Irrigation Assessment Rates at the Project or at Any Other Irrigation Facilities?

Over the past several years the BIA's irrigation program has been the subject of several Inspector General (IG) audits. In the most recent audit, No. 96-I-641, 1996, the IG concluded, “Operation and maintenance revenues were insufficient to maintain the projects, and some projects had deteriorated to the extent that their continued capability to deliver water was in doubt. This occurred because operation and maintenance rates were not based on the full cost of delivering water, including the costs of systematically rehabilitating and replacing project facilities and equipment, and because project personnel did not seek regular rate increases to cover the full cost of operation.” This audit recommendation is still outstanding.

Previous IG audits reached the same conclusion. This showed a lack of response in addressing this critical issue by the BIA over an extended period of time. Irrigation assessment rates must be systematically reviewed and adjusted when necessary to reflect the BIA's actual full costs to properly operate and perform all appropriate maintenance on the irrigation facility infrastructure. If this is not accomplished, a rate deficiency can accumulate. Overcoming rate deficiencies can result in having to raise rates in larger increments and over shorter time frames than would have been otherwise necessary.

Does the BIA Have Any Proposed Rate Adjustments That Were Not Put Into Effect?

The proposed rate adjustment for the 2003 irrigation season at the Flathead Irrigation Project from $19.95 to $21.45 is not being put into effect. After further consultation with the stakeholders, the BIA agreed a rate adjustment could be delayed.

Where Can I Get Information on the Regulatory and Legal Citations in This Notice?

You can contact the individuals listed in the contact tables below or you can use the Internet site for the Government Printing Office at http://www.gpo.gov.

What Authorizes Us To Issue This Notice?

Our authority to issue this document is vested in the Secretary of the Interior by 5 U.S.C. 301 and the Act of August 14, 1914 (38 Stat. 583; 25 U.S.C. 385). The Secretary has in turn delegated this authority to the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs under Part 209, Chapter 8.1A, of the Department of the Interior's Departmental Manual.

Does This Notice Affect Me?

This notice affects you if you own or lease land within the assessable acreage of one of our irrigation facilities, or you have a carriage agreement with one of our irrigation facilities.

Who Can I Contact for Further Information?

The following tables list the regional and agency contacts for the irrigation facilities where the BIA recovers its costs for local administration, operation, maintenance, and rehabilitation.

Project nameProject/agency/contacts
Northwest Region Contacts
Stanley Speaks, Regional Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Northwest Regional Office, 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232-4169, Telephone (503) 231-6702
Flathead Irrigation ProjectErnest T. Moran, Superintendent, Flathead Agency Irrigation Division, P.O. Box 40, Pablo, Montana 59855-5555, Telephone: (406) 675-2700.
Fort Hall Irrigation ProjectEric J. LaPointe, Superintendent, Fort Hall Agency, P.O. Box 220, Fort Hall, Idaho 83203-0220, Telephone: (208) 238-2301.
Wapato Irrigation ProjectPierce Harrison, Project Administrator, Wapato Irrigation Project, P.O. Box 220, Wapato, WA 98951-0220, Telephone: (509) 877-3155.
Rocky Mountain Region Contacts
Keith Beartusk, Regional Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Rock Mountain Regional Office, 316 North 26th Street, Billings, Montana 59101, Telephone: (406) 247-7943
Blackfeet Irrigation ProjectRoss Denny, Superintendent, Cliff Hall, Irrigation Manager, Box 880, Browning, MT 59417, Telephones: (406) 338-7544, Superintendent, (406) 338-7519, Irrigation.
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Crow Irrigation ProjectGordon Jackson, Superintendent, Dan Lowe, Irrigation Manager, P.O. Box 69, Crow Agency, MT 59022, Telephones: (406) 638-2672. Superintendent, (406) 638-2863, Irrigation.
Fort Belknap Irrigation ProjectCleo Hamilton, Superintendent, Ted Hall, Acting Irrigation Manager, R.R.1, Box 980, Harlem, MT 59526, Telephones: (406) 353-2901, Superintendent, (406) 353-2905, Irrigation.
Fort Peck Irrigation ProjectDennis Whiteman, Superintendent, P.O. Box 637, Poplar, MT 59255, Marvin Azure, Irrigation Manager (acting), 602 6th Avenue North, Wolf Point, MT 59201, Telephones: (406) 768-5312, Superintendent, (406) 653-1752, Irrigation.
Wind River Irrigation ProjectPerry Baker, Superintendent, Sheridan Nicholas, Irrigation Manager, P.O. Box 158, Fort Washakie, WY 82514, Telephones: (307) 332-7810, Superintendent, (307) 332-2596, Irrigation.
Southwest Region Contacts
Bob Baracker, Regional Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Southwest Regional Office, 615 First Street, NW., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102, Telephone: (505) 346-7587
Pine River Irrigation ProjectMichael Stancampiano, Superintendent, Kenneth Caveny, Irrigation Engineer, P.O. Box 315, Ignacio, CO 81137-0315, Telephones: (970) 563-4511, Superintendent, (970) 563-1017, Irrigation.
Western Region Contacts
Wayne Nordwall, Regional Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Western Regional Office, PO Box 10, Phoenix, Arizona 85001, Telephone: (602) 379-6600
Colorado River Irrigation ProjectAllen Anspach, Superintendent, R.R. 1 Box 9-C, Parker, AZ 85344, Telephone: (928) 669-7111.
Duck Valley Irrigation ProjectPaul Young, Superintendent, Pete LeFebvre, Nat'l Resources Specialist, 1555 Shoshone Circle, Elko, Nevada 89801, Telephones: (775) 738-0569, Superintendent, (775) 738-0590, Irrigation.
Fort Yuma Irrigation ProjectWilliam Pyott, Land Operations Officer, P.O. Box 11000, Yuma, Arizona, Telephone: (520) 782-1202.
San Carlos Irrigation Project Joint WorksRandy Shaw, Irrigation Manager, 13805 N. Arizona Boulevard, Coolidge, AZ 85228, Telephone: (520) 723-6216.
San Carlos Irrigation Project Indian WorksJoe Revak, Pima Agency, Land Operations, Box 8, Sacaton, AZ 85247, Telephone: (520) 562-3372.
Uintah Irrigation ProjectLynn Hansen, Irrigation Manager, P.O. Box 130, Fort Duchesne, UT 84026, Telephone: (435) 722-4341.
Walker River Irrigation ProjectChuck O'Rourke, Natural Resource Officer, 1677 Hot Springs Road, Carson City, Nevada 89706, Telephone: (775) 887-3550.

What Will BIA Charge for the 2002 or 2003 Irrigation Seasons?

The rate table below shows how we will bill at each of our irrigation facilities for the 2002 or 2003 irrigation season as indicated. The irrigation facilities where rates were adjusted are noted by an asterisk immediately following the name of the facilities.

Northwest Region Rate Table

Project nameRate categoryCurrent 2002 rateProposed 2003 rate
Flathead Irrigation ProjectBasic per acre$19.95$19.95
Fort Hall Irrigation ProjectBasic per acre20.00To be Determined (See Note below).
Fort Hall Irrigation Project Minor UnitsBasic per acre14.00
Fort Hall Irrigation Project * MichaudBasic per acre Pressure per acre28.00 41.00
Wapato Irrigation Project * Ahtanum UnitBilling Charge Per Tract Farm unit/land tracts up to one acre (minimum charge)5.00 10.35
Farm unit/land tracts over one acre—per acre10.35
Wapato Irrigation Project * Toppenish/Simcoe UnitsBilling Charge Per Tract Farm unit/land tracts up to one acre (minimum charge)5.00 10.40
Farm unit/land tract over one acre—per acre10.40
Wapato Irrigation Project * Wapato/Satus UnitBilling Charge Per Tract Farm unit/land tracts up to one acre (minimum charge)5.00 41.40
“A” farm unit/land tracts over one acre—per acre41.40
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Additional Works farm unit/land tracts over one acre—per acre45.76
“B” farm unit/land tracts over one acre—per acre49.68
Water Rental Agreement Lands—per acre50.96
Note—“To be determined,” means that future rates will become effective only after we have published another rate notice for comments, followed by a final rate notice.

Rocky Mountain Region Rate Table

Project nameRate category2002 season rate
Blackfeet Irrigation Project *Basic-per acre$13.00
Crow Irrigation Project (See note below)Basic-per acre16.00
Fort Belknap Irrigation ProjectIndian per acre6.25
Non-Indian per acre12.50
Fort Peck Irrigation ProjectBasic-per acre14.00
Wind River Irrigation ProjectBasic-per acre12.00
Note—The Crow Project rate adjustment was previously announced in the Federal Register for the 2002 irrigation season and is being provided for informational purposes only, reference Fed. Reg., Vol. 64, No. 95, Page 27003, May 18, 1999.

Southwest Region Rate Table

Project nameRate category2002 rate
Pine River Irrigation ProjectMinimum Charge per tract$25.00
Basic-per acre8.50

Western Region Rate Table

Project nameRate categoryCurrent 2002 rateProposed 2003 rate
Colorado River Irrigation ProjectBasic per acre up to 5.0 acre feet Excess Water per acre foot 5.0-5.5 acre-feet$37.00 7.40To be Determined.1
Excess Water per acre-foot over 5.5 acre-feet17.00
Duck Valley Irrigation ProjectBasic-per acre5.30
Fort Yuma Irrigation Project (See note below)Basic-per acre up to 5.0 acre-feet Excess Water per acre-foot over 5.0 acre-feet60.00 10.50
San Carlos Irrigation Project (Joint Works)Basic-per acre20.00$20.00
San Carlos Irrigation Project (Indian Works)Basic-per acre56.00To be Determined.1
Uintah Irrigation ProjectBasic-per acre8.50
Walker River Irrigation ProjectIndian per acre Non-Indian per acre7.32 15.29
1 “To be determined,” means that future rates will become effective only after we have published another rate notice for comments, followed by a final rate notice.
Note—The Fort Yuma Irrigation Project is owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). The irrigation rates assessed for operation and maintenance are established by Reclamation and are provided for informational purposes only. The BIA only collects the irrigation assessments on behalf of Reclamation.

Consultation and Coordination With Tribal Governments (Executive Order 13175)

The BIA irrigation facilities are vital components of the local agriculture economy of the reservations on which they are located. To fulfill its responsibilities to the tribes, tribal organizations, water user organizations, and the individual water users, the BIA communicates, coordinates, and consults on a continuing basis with these entities on issues of water delivery, water availability, costs of administration, operation, maintenance, and rehabilitation. This is accomplished at the individual irrigation facilities by agency and regional representatives, as appropriate, in accordance with local protocol and procedures. This notice is one component of the BIA's overall coordination and consultation process to provide notice and request comments from these entities on adjusting irrigation assessment rates.

Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use (Executive Order 13211)

The rate adjustments will have no adverse effects on energy supply, distribution, or use (including a shortfall in supply, price increases, and increase use of foreign supplies) should the proposed rate adjustments be implemented. This is a notice for rate adjustments at BIA owned and operated irrigation facilities, except for the Fort Yuma Irrigation Project. The Fort Yuma Irrigation Project is owned and operated Start Printed Page 63678by the Bureau of Reclamation with a portion serving the Fort Yuma Reservation.

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Order 12866)

These rate adjustments are not a significant regulatory action and do not need to be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

This rate making is not a rule for the purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because it is “a rule of particular applicability relating to rates.” 5 U.S.C. 601(2).

Unfunded Mandates Act of 1995

These rate adjustments impose no unfunded mandates on any governmental or private entity and are in compliance with the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Act of 1995.

Takings Implications (Executive Order 12630)

The Department has determined that these rate adjustments do not have significant “takings” implications. The rate adjustments do not deprive the public, state, or local governments of rights or property.

Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

The Department has determined that these rate adjustments do not have significant Federalism effects because they pertain solely to Federal-tribal relations and will not interfere with the roles, rights, and responsibilities of states.

Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Office of the Solicitor has determined that this rule does not unduly burden the judicial system and meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

These rate adjustments do not affect the collections of information which have been approved by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The OMB Control Number is 1076-0141 and expires November 30, 2002.

National Environmental Policy Act

The Department has determined that these rate adjustments do not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment and that no detailed statement is required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370(d)).

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Dated: September 24, 2002.

Neal A. McCaleb,

Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs.

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[FR Doc. 02-26038 Filed 10-11-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-4J-P