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Rates are assessed by Interior Department

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In a letter to the editor this incorrect statement was made “…. Only the three irrigation districts have the ability from the state and county to assess irrigation water costs.” This question and the answer were posted as part of the Federal Register announcement of the increases. (82 FR 37604) (Document #)

“Comment: Several commenters expressed a position that, under the irrigation districts’ repayment contracts, only irrigation districts have the power to assess themselves.

Response: As noted in the April 21, 2017 Federal Register notice, BIA is required to establish irrigation assessment rates that recover the costs to administer, operate, maintain, and rehabilitate our projects. As owner of the FIIP, it is BIA’s responsibility to ensure adequate resources are made available to meet the requirements noted above. BIA’s authority to assess rates dates back to the Act of May 29, 1908, is codified at 25 U.S.C. 381 et seq., and is addressed in the BIA’s regulations at 25 CFR part 171. Additionally, the repayment contracts between the irrigation districts and Interior explicitly state that operation and maintenance expenses ‘shall be paid . . . as provided . . . by rules made or to be made . . . by the Secretary of the Interior.’ The repayment contracts between the irrigation districts and Interior capture the irrigators’ obligation to pay annual assessments as well as the irrigation districts’ authority to collect such assessments for payment to the United States. The authority to assess rates, however, rests solely with Interior and has not been delegated to the irrigation districts.”

The districts do need to notify the Lake County Treasurer of the rate increase so it can appear correctly on the tax statements. Should a district choose not to do so it would put water delivery for their water district in jeopardy.

Susan Lake


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