KENNEWICK, Wash. — A bill to transfer title of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation irrigation assets to the Kennewick Irrigation District has passed the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.
H.R. 6652, introduced by Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., passed out of the committee Nov. 15.
“The goal is to get it across the finish line this Congress,” a Newhouse aide said. Democrats take control of the House in the new Congress in January.
The bill is in keeping with a December 2017 agreement between the district and bureau. It transfers title of a portion of lands and irrigation canals from 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, pays for its maintenance and is liable for it, district officials have said.
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, Charles Freeman, district manager, has said.