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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.

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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, 2003.

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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 January 9, 2003 (68 FR 1191), to adjust the irrigation rates at several BIA irrigation facilities. The public and interested parties were provided an opportunity to submit written comments during the 60-day period subsequent to January 9, 2003.

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

Written comments were received for: (a) Fort Belknap Irrigation Project, Montana; (b) Wapato Irrigation Project, Washington; and (c) Wind River Irrigation Project, Wyoming.

What Issues Were of Concern by the Commentators?

The commentors were concerned with one or more of the following three issues: (1) Consultation with stakeholders; (2) how funds collected from stakeholders are expended on operation and maintenance; and (3) the impact of an assessment 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 these consultation meetings, any issue of concern by a stakeholder can be brought up and discussed such as water operations, facility maintenance, and financial management. Stakeholders also can contact BIA representatives at the specific facility serving them using the tables in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section to discuss issues of concern.Start Printed Page 68104

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?

All of the BIA's irrigation projects are important economic contributors to the local communities they serve, contributing millions in crop value annually. Historically, BIA tempered irrigation rate increases to demonstrate sensitivity to the economic impact on water users. This has resulted in a rate deficiency at most of the irrigation projects.

Over the past several years the BIA's irrigation program has been the subject of several Office of Inspector General (OIG) audits. In the most recent audit, No. 96-I-641, March 1996, the OIG 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.

A previous OIG audit, No. 88-42, February 1988, reached the same conclusion. A separate audit performed on the Wapato Irrigation Project, No. 95-I-1402, September 1995, reinforced the general findings of the OIG on the BIA's irrigation program. This pointed out a lack of response by the BIA to the original findings of the OIG in addressing this critical issue over an extended period of time. The BIA must systematically review and evaluate irrigation assessment rates and adjust them when necessary to reflect the full costs to properly operate, and perform all appropriate maintenance on, the irrigation facility infrastructure for safe and reliable operation. If this review and evaluation is not accomplished, a rate deficiency can eventually accumulate. Overcoming rate deficiencies can result in the BIA having to raise irrigation assessment 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 Wind River Irrigation Project from $12.00 to $13.00 was not put into effect. After further consultation with the stakeholders, the BIA agreed to delay the proposed rate adjustment until the 2004 irrigation season. For the 2004 irrigation season a rate adjustment from $12.00 to $14.00 is proposed to make up the lost revenue for the 2003 irrigation season. The proposed rate adjustment is in a separate notice.

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.

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
Name:Contacts:
Flathead Irrigation ProjectErnest T. Moran, Superintendent,Flathead Agency Irrigation Division,PO Box 40,Pablo, Montana 59855-5555,Telephone: (406) 675-2700.
Fort Hall Irrigation ProjectEric J. LaPointe, Superintendent,Fort Hall Agency,PO Box 220,Fort Hall, Idaho 83203-0220,Telephone: (208) 238-2301.
Wapato Irrigation ProjectPierce Harrison, Project Administrator,Wapato Irrigation Project,PO 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
Name:Contacts:
Blackfeet Irrigation ProjectRoss Denny, Superintendent,Cliff Hall, Irrigation Manager,Box 880,Browning, MT 59417,Telephones: (406) 338-7544, Superintendent;(406) 338-7519, Irrigation.Start Printed Page 68105
Crow Irrigation ProjectGordon Jackson, Superintendent,Dan Lowe, Irrigation Manager, PO Box 69,Crow Agency, MT 59022,Telephones: (406) 638-2672, Superintendent;(406) 638-2863, Irrigation.
Fort Belknap Irrigation ProjectCleo Hamilton, Superintendent,Dan Spencer, Irrigation Manager,R.R.1, Box 980,Harlem, MT 59526,Telephones: (406) 353-2901 Superintendent;(406) 353-2905, Irrigation.
Fort Peck Irrigation ProjectSpike Bighorn, Superintendent,PO Box 637,Poplar, MT 59255,Rhonda Knutsen, Irrigation Manager, 602 6th Avenue North,Wolf Point, MT 59201, Telephones: (406) 768-5312, Superintendent;(406) 653-1752, Irrigation.
Wind River Irrigation ProjectSteven Pollock, (Acting) Superintendent,Hilare Peck, Irrigation Manager,PO Box 158,Fort Washakie, WY 82514,Telephones: (307) 332-7810, Superintendent;(307) 332-2596, Irrigation.
Southwest Region Contacts
Rob Baracker, Regional Director
Bureau of Indian Affairs, Southwest Regional Office
615 First Street, NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102
Telephone (505) 346-7587
Name:Contacts:
Pine River Irrigation ProjectMichael Stancampiano, Superintendent, Kenneth Caveney, Irrigation Engineer, PO 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
Name:Contacts:
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, 1555 Shoshone Circle, Elko, Nevada 89801, Telephone: (775) 738-0569, Superintendent.
Fort Yuma Irrigation ProjectWilliam Pyott, Land Operations Officer, P.O. Box 11000, Yuma, Arizona, Telephone: (520) 782-1202.
San Carlos Irrigation Project Joint WorksCarl Christensen, 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, PO Box 130, Fort Duchesne, UT 84026, Telephone: (435) 722-4341.
Walker River Irrigation ProjectRobert Hunter, Superintendent, 1677 Hot Springs Road, Carson City, Nevada 89706, Telephone: (775) 887-3500.

What Will BIA Charge for the 2003 Irrigation Seasons?

The rate tables below show how we billed each of our irrigation facilities for the 2003 irrigation season as indicated. An asterisk immediately following the name of the facilities notes the irrigation facilities where rates were adjusted.

Northwest Region Rate Table

NameRate category2003 season rate
Flathead Irrigation Project (See Note #1 below)Basic per acre$19.95
Fort Hall Irrigation Project *Basic per acre22.00
Fort Hall Irrigation Project—Minor UnitsBasic per acre14.00
Fort Hall Irrigation Project—Michaud *Basic per acre30.00
Pressure per acre43.50
Wapato Irrigation Project—Ahtanum Unit *Billing Charge Per Tract5.00
Farm unit/land tracts up to one acre (minimum charge)13.00
Farm unit/land tracts over one acre—per acre13.00
Wapato Irrigation Project—Toppenish/Simcoe Units *Billing Charge Per Tract5.00
Farm unit/land tracts up to one acre (minimum charge)13.00
Farm unit/land tract over one acre—per acre13.00
Wapato Irrigation Project—Wapato/Satus Unit *Billing Charge Per Tract5.00
Farm unit/land tracts up to one acre (minimum charge)51.00
“A” farm unit/land tracts over one acre—per acre51.00
Additional Works farm unit/land tracts over one acre—per acre56.00
“B” farm unit/land tracts over one acre—per acre61.00
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Water Rental Agreement Lands—per acre62.00
Note #1.—The Flathead Irrigation Project assessment rate for the 2004 season was proposed in 68 FR 1191-1196 at $21.45 per acre. This rate is considered implemented for the 2004 season and will be published in the Federal Register notice for the 2004 irrigation season.

Rocky Mountain Region Rate Table

NameRate category2003 season rate
Blackfeet Irrigation ProjectBasic per acre$13.00
Crow Irrigation ProjectBasic per acre16.00
Fort Belknap Irrigation ProjectIndian per acre7.00
Non-Indian per acre14.00
Fort Peck Irrigation ProjectBasic per acre14.00
Wind River Irrigation ProjectBasic per acre12.00

Western Region Rate Table

Project nameRate category2003 season rate
Colorado River Irrigation ProjectBasic per acre up to 5.75 acre-feet$47.00
Excess Water per acre foot over 5.75 acre-feet17.00
Duck Valley Irrigation ProjectBasic per acre5.30
Fort Yuma Irrigation Project (See Note #2 below)Basic per acre up to 5.0 acre-feet60.00
Excess Water per acre-foot over 5.0 acre-feet10.50
San Carlos Irrigation Project (Joint Works)Basic per acre20.00
San Carlos Irrigation Project (Indian Works)Basic per acre56.00
Uintah Irrigation Project *Basic per acre11.00
Walker River Irrigation ProjectIndian per acre7.32
non-Indian per acre15.29
Note #2.—The Fort Yuma Irrigation Project is owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). The irrigation rate 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.

Southwest Region Rate Table

NameRate category2003 season rate
Pine River Irrigation ProjectMinimum Charge per tract$25.00
Basic per acre8.50

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 increased 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 by 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 Start Printed Page 68107in 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 April 30, 2006.

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: November 21, 2003.

Aurene M. Martin,

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs.

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[FR Doc. 03-30253 Filed 12-4-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-W7-P