Irrigation transfer bill introduced in U.S. House

The Yakima River flows through Prosser, Wash., to the top of Prosser Dam. The 6-megawatt dam is part of the transfer of property the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to the Kennewick Irrigation District.

KENNEWICK, Wash. — A bill to transfer title of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation irrigation assets to the Kennewick Irrigation District has been introduced again in the U.S. House by Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.

Newhouse introduced H.R. 278 on Jan. 8. It is identical, he said in a news release, to H.R. 6652 which passed the House, 358-1, on Dec. 19 in the last session of Congress but was not voted on in the Senate.

“Had the Senate acted promptly, this legislation to give more local control to Central Washington water users would already have been signed into law,” Newhouse said.

The bill is in keeping with a December 2017 agreement between the district and the bureau. It transfers title of a portion of lands and irrigation canals from the Chandler Pump Station, 11.2 miles east of Prosser, and running 40 miles east.

The district has already paid the bureau nearly $4.6 million on a lease-loan over 65 years for the system and pays for its maintenance and is liable for it, according to district officials.

District ownership will make it easier for the city of Kennewick to gain approval to use right-of-ways on top of enclosed canals for recreational trails. The district also could be faster in processing easements when properties are sold and releasing easements that have never been used, according to district manager Charles Freeman, district manager.

Central Washington field reporter

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