House committee approves Newhouse bill to transfer federal title to home state irrigation district

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on May 3 unanimously passed a bill from U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) that would authorize the federal government to convey certain facilities, easements and rights-of-way to the Kennewick Irrigation District (KID) in his home state to improve its water delivery operations.

“Water users of the Kennewick Irrigation District deserve responsive, local management,” Rep. Newhouse said on Friday. “I am grateful for the support of the House Natural Resources Committee, who voted to pass my legislation unanimously, and I look forward to it being approved on the House floor.”

H.R. 278, which Rep. Newhouse sponsored in January with Republican colleagues who included U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), would authorize the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to transfer its title of related works and lands to the Kennewick Irrigation District in Benton County, Wash., for operations related to the district’s delivery of water.

If enacted, H.R. 278 would permit the transfer title of works beginning at KID’s head gate and extending 40 miles east to the Columbia River, including the conveyance of land and project facilities that would be completed no later than two years after the enactment. The bill would not privatize federal water projects or properties within the BOR, according to Rep. Newhouse.

If enacted, H.R. 278 also would authorize KID to complete an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as under the Endangered Species Act, National Historical Preservation Act, and hazardous review processes, according to the text of the bill.
H.R. 278 now moves to the full U.S. House of Representatives for action.