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Provo River Project Title Transfer

Remarks Delivered By:
William E Rinne, Acting Commissioner
Provo, Utah
October 02, 2006


Good morning. It's a pleasure to be here in Provo to help commemorate the transfer of title of the Salt Lake Aqueduct to the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake and Sandy (Metro). Today's signing transfers title of a key feature of the Provo River Project.

This transfer of title puts ownership and control of these vital municipal water conveyance facilities into the hands of local entities rather than the federal government as Metro obtains ownership of the 42-mile Salt Lake Aqueduct and its related facilities.

Metro has operated and maintained the Aqueduct for more than 50 years, so the change in ownership should be seamless to their customers.

This transfer will benefit Metro and the agencies and citizens Metro serves and help them address maintenance and replacement challenges as the pipeline ages.

Efforts in Partnership

The title transfer we celebrate today culminates more than four years of cooperative efforts by a number of partners - Metro, the Provo River Water Users Association (the Association), other involved stakeholder groups, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Initial discussions related to this transfer began in November 2002 among Reclamation, the Association, and Metro.

I would like to recognize some individuals and organizations that have made this day possible - they characterize the leadership, hard work, and dedication that has occurred on this project.

I want to begin by recognizing Senator Robert Bennett and Congressman Chris Cannon, who have been steadfast supporters since the inception of this process.

Senator Bennett sponsored legislation in the Senate and Congressman Cannon introduced legislation in the House of Representatives. Both bills passed, and President Bush signed the Provo River Transfer Act into law on October 30, 2004.

Several other groups also participated in discussions along the waythe Central Utah Water Conservancy District, the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, the Provo Reservoir Canal Company, and the U.S. Forest Service.

And I also want to mention two leaders from Reclamation: Rick Gold and Bruce Barrett.

These groups and organizations came together to develop a plan that would protect water quality and provide additional water supplies to meet growing municipal and industrial needs in the Salt Lake and Sandy metropolitan areas.

Lots of detailed work has been completed. Realty work, a hazardous materials survey of the property, and the Endangered Species Act compliance commitments are all now complete. Reclamation, Metro, and the Association have worked together diligently to complete the necessary surveys and assemble the legal descriptions and maps.

Over the past several months, Reclamation, Metro, and the Association have been working to draft quitclaim deeds that satisfy all parties and fulfill the terms of the Provo River Transfer Act. Because of the complex nature of this transfer, at least six separate deeds and easements will be signed and notarized at our ceremony today.

Despite all the challenges, agreements were reached because of outstanding cooperation and collaboration. This title transfer is an excellent example of how transfers can and should be done - it is truly cooperative conservation at its best.

Philosophy of Title Transfer

The Department and Reclamation are working to improve things at the grassroots level for our customers, and title transfers, when appropriate, can play a significant role.

Over the past ten years, Reclamation has been working to facilitate title transfers, and we developed a process known as the Framework for the Transfer of Title to ensure that processes would be consistent and comprehensive.

We've transferred 19 projects or parts of projects during that time; 12 of those have occurred in the past 5 years.

We believe that the title transfer process has evolved and improved greatly during this time. We've learned important lessons and have modified the process to improve efficiency and reduce the associated costs.

In particular, we recognize that each project is unique and was authorized to address a specific set of circumstances. A "one size fits all" approach to title transfers cannot meet the needs of diverse water user organizations.

We also know that there is no such thing as a simple project. Each project has complexities that must be identified and addressed. Older projects or projects with facilities that cover a relatively large geographic area or encompass significant amounts of land, houses, or business structures tend to have issues that can arise unexpectedly.

Though transfer of title to public works facilities may be complex, one central tenet of this process holds true: prior to authorization of the transfer process, the parties should reach agreement on the terms and conditions of the transfer of title.

Managing for Excellence

Reclamation continues to adjust our practices where needed to position ourselves to meet the challenges of 21st century water management. You may have heard of our framework to accomplish thisthe Managing for Excellence action plan.

One of the important Managing for Excellence efforts is to look at the process we use for title transfer. I know that the team working on title transfers is looking closely at what you've done here, the cooperative process that you have gone through, as a model for future transfers.

Much of Managing for Excellence concerns interaction with stakeholders  I would like to thank Keith Denos of the Association and John Carmen, former General Manager of Metro, for their involvement in the process of developing Managing for Excellence.

Your input is vital to the plan's success as we develop and implement it. We welcome your involvement, and I hope you follow the plan's progressyou can find information and offer comments on Reclamation's website.

Conclusion

We believe that the Provo River Project title transfer will make life better for the people here in Utah, and Reclamation is proud to be part of it.

We also look forward to transferring title of the 21.5 mile Provo Reservoir Canal in Utah County to the Provo River Water Users Association in the near future.

Reclamation and the districts have worked successfully in partnership for more than 70 years.

Today's event is a testament to this long-time partnership, and we look forward to continuing this strong relationship.

It is my distinct pleasure to congratulate and thank all of the parties involved in this process. It gives me great pleasure to represent Reclamation as we turn over the keys to this vital water conveyance facility.