WASHINGTON D.C. (KIFI/KIDK)-The Bureau of Reclamation is transferring ownership of Minidoka Project water irrigation facilities to two irrigation districts, the Minidoka Irrigation District and the A&B Irrigation District in Magic Valley.
Minidoka Project lands extend from the town of Ashton, Idaho along the Snake River, about 300 miles downstream to the town of Bliss in south-central Idaho. It includes five reservoirs, including the Minidoka Dam and Powerplant and Lake Walcott, Jackson Lake Dam and Jackson Lake, American Falls Dam and Reservoir, Island Park Dam and Reservoir, Grassy Lake Dam and Grassy Lake, two diversion dams, canals, laterals, drains, and some 177 water supply wells.
The transfer happens under auspices of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation Management and Recreation Act, which was signed by President Trump last year.
“These title transfers fulfill the Trump Administration's goals to streamline bureaucratic processes and create local equity for infrastructure improvements,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “Transferring these facilities – which have been paid for, operated and maintained by the irrigation districts – saves American taxpayer dollars due to decreased federal operating costs and reduced liability.”
The Minidoka Irrigation District, located in Minidoka and Cassia counties, will take ownership of the facilities and approximately 403 acres of lands in support of the Project’s Gravity Division. MID serves approximately 77,214 acres of irrigable private land through canals, laterals, pipelines and drainage systems. It has been operating and maintaining these facilities since 1916.
A&B Irrigation District, located near Rupert, Idaho, will take ownership of the facilities and approximately 1020 acres in support of the North Side Pumping Division. It serves approximately 82,600 acres of irrigated land and has been operating and maintaining these facilities since 1966.
Idaho Republican Senator Jim Risch sponsored an amendment that allowed the transfer to proceed.
“Farmers and ranchers have long had to contend with overly prescriptive regulations dictating water use as they work to feed the country,” said Risch. “I was proud to introduce legislation to reduce the red tape surrounding Western water resources and am pleased to see its implementation in Idaho to give irrigation districts more control over the assets they manage and use daily.”
Today’s action begins a 90-day congressional waiting period, after which the Department will complete the ownership transfer unless the Congress enacts a joint resolution disapproving the transfers within that time period.
Correction: This story has been edited to clarify the transfer of irrigation facilities to the two irrigation districts.