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Reclamation Seeks Comments on Requirements for Water-Related Contracting Activities

Send from kfalls@aol.com of Klamath Bucket Brigade

From: dankeppen@charter.net To: dlreyns@sso.org, Aazhderian@sldmwa.org, dbreninger@pcwa.net, Sent: 10/24/2011 3:04:53 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time Subj: BOR to Extend Comment Period for Reclamation Manual Changes

Dear Alliance Directors, Advisory Committee Members, and other interested parties:

As reported to you last week, the Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public comment on draft Reclamation Manual releases for water-related contracting activities and water and related resources feasibility studies. Mark Limbaugh and I on Friday discussed this matter at length with Reclamation policy officials in Denver, where we underscored our concern that many in the Western water user community were not even aware that this important process was underway. At a minimum, we asked for a 30-day extension to the comment period, which was set to end this week.

As a result of our call with Reclamation Denver, Mark was informed earlier today that the comment period has been extended until November 30 for all of the draft Directive and Standards (D&S) for water contracting and feasibility studies. Reclamation will be commencing an outreach effort at the upcoming National Water Resources Association conference and in the Reclamation Regions to get comments from water users in the next month. Reclamation will issue a formal press release on this soon.

We will work with the Alliance Advisory Committee to prepared coordinated and detailed comments on both of these issues.

I’ve attached additional, preliminary background information on this matter below.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Best regards –

Dan Keppen

Executive Director

Family Farm Alliance


Reclamation is requesting public review and comment on draft Directive and Standard (D&S), Water and Related Resources Feasibility Studies (CMP 09-02). On approval, CMP 09-02 will be published in the Reclamation Manual, which is used to clarify program responsibilities and authorities and to document Reclamation-wide methods of doing business. All requirements in the Reclamation manual are mandatory for Reclamation staff. This review period –which was set to expire October 21 - will provide stakeholders the opportunity to offer input on the proposed requirements prior to Reclamation finalizing and approving the document. Of note, the new draft would provide three preferred study alternatives – one from the Reclamation analysis, one based on ecosystem benefits, and one based on the preference of local stakeholders. There also appears to be a greater emphasis on climate change considerations being taken into account, which is consistent with the Administration’s priorities. Reference to “net public benefits” is also included.

I strongly suggest that you have your management team and /or your engineer take a look at this. Please let us know if we can further advance or support any concerns that you have.

Reclamation is also proposing changes to its policy manual on a topic which may bring back memories for some of you, who banded together a few years ago to beat it back. Many 1902 Reclamation Act projects, so-called single purpose irrigation projects, have evolved to use water on residential lawns and gardens. Most early project contracts are silent about these types of “conversions.” In the past, this evolving use has not been viewed as a “conversion” of Reclamation water, nor has it been viewed as a “transfer,” so long as the water is used on the same acreage and was not treated. Several times in the past, some officials at Interior and Reclamation have attempted to change that, and now, it looks like they are at it again.

Alliance Counsel Gary Sawyers recalls that, starting almost 20 years ago, Reclamation began inserting this same general concept into renewed water service contracts for Central Valley Project (CVP) users. Reclamation had originally wanted the threshold to be 10 acres, and Gary and others finally negotiated them down to 5. Gary says CVP contractors do not like this, but have learned to live with it. They (and others, elsewhere in the West) likely would object loudly to a higher threshold, and would argue that they have already dealt with this issue in their contracts. More information on this topic is included below. Comments on this proposal were originally due October 28.

Commissioner's Office

Washington, DC

Media Contact: Peter Soeth, psoeth@usbr.gov , 303-445-3615

For Immediate Release: September 29, 2011

Reclamation Seeks Comments on Requirements for Water-Related Contracting Activities

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public comment on draft Reclamation Manual releases for water-related contracting activities. These draft releases provide definitions of key terms and revise existing definitions; restructure and clarify Reclamation's water transfer and conversion policy; and consolidate and set-out basic pricing requirements for water-related contracts.

Specifically, the four draft releases available for review are:

· Draft RM Policy Water-Related Contract and Repayment General Principles and Requirements (PEC P05). It revises an existing policy by providing a number of definitions for terms of general application for water-related contracting purposes. "Irrigation" and "Municipal and Industrial" are defined in this draft Policy to adjust and clarify the distinction between them. This ensures that municipal and otherwise non-agricultural uses that involve irrigation, such as golf courses, parks and lawns are properly categorized as M&I uses.

· Draft RM D&S Water Rates and Pricing (PEC 05-01). This will replace existing PEC 05-01 and addresses cost-recovery and rate-setting requirements for water-related contracts.

· Draft RM Policy Transfers and Conversions of Project Water (PEC 09). This supersedes and replaces existing RM Policy Voluntary Transfers of Project Water (WTR P02). In combination with the new definitions in PEC P05 it realigns the water use categories, defines the basic options and requirements for transfers and conversions, and preserves Reclamation's support for beneficial transfers and conversions.

· Draft RM D&S Conversions of Project Water from Irrigation Use to Municipal and Industrial Use (PEC 09-01) provides additional requirements for conversions of project water beyond the basic requirements provided in PEC P09. It addresses the contractual options and requirements for formalizing these conversions. It also covers the option of using the Sale of Water for Miscellaneous Purposes Act of 1920 for converting water from irrigation-only projects to Municipal and Industrial uses.

The Reclamation Manual is used to establish Reclamation requirements, assign program responsibility and establish and document Reclamation methods of doing business.

These Reclamation Manual updates are available for review at: www.usbr.gov/recman.

Comments or questions may be directed to Owen Walker at owalker@usbr.gov. Comments must be received by Reclamation by 5 PM on October 28, 2011.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at http://www.usbr.gov.


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