North Dakota Ag Connection - 06/27/2019
Senator John Hoeven announced that the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has agreed to a plan to enable the transfer of the Oakes Test Area to the Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District (DSID). That includes:
- Transferring the operations and maintenance (O&M) responsibility for the facility from the Garrison Diversion Conservancy to the irrigation district.
- Completing a transfer agreement between BOR and DSID.
Hoeven spoke with BOR Great Plains Regional Director Mike Black to advance the transfer under legislation passed earlier this year that allows the sale of BOR facilities.
"We've been working with the Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District and the Bureau of Reclamation to transfer this facility over to local control and ensure this facility can better serve the needs of local farmers," said Hoeven. "We appreciate BOR agreeing to a plan for advancing the transfer and will continue working to complete this plan so the irrigation district can put this facility to good use."
The Oakes Test Area was established at the recommendation of the International Joint Commission, but no longer receives federal appropriations. The local irrigation district continues to make use of the facility, but is unable to make modifications due to the required federal approval process.
Hoeven helped pass legislation earlier this year that would remove the need for congressional authorization prior to transferring the title of a BOR project facility, such as the Oakes Test Area. The senator met with local stakeholders to review progress on negotiations with BOR and has repeatedly stressed to BOR officials that the price of the 32 year-old facility should reflect the present state of the infrastructure, including its size and maintenance costs.
Hoeven has also introduced legislation, with Senator Kevin Cramer as an original cosponsor, to authorize the title transfer of the facility. The senator has been working to allow the Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District to purchase the facility since meeting with the Garrison Diversion last year.