Trump Administration takes another step to transfer federal water facilities to local ownership in Utah

Media Contact: Marlon Duke, 385-228-4845, mduke@usbr.gov

For Release: September 30, 2020

Wellsville Canal
Wellsville Canal
SALT LAKE CITY – The Bureau of Reclamation today notified Congress of its intent to transfer ownership of the Hyrum-Mendon Canal and Wellsville Canal, which are part of the Hyrum Project in Cache County, Utah, to the Wellsville-Mendon Conservation District. Lands associated with these two canals will also be transferred. This action follows the recent completion of two similar transfers in Utah.

Other features of the Hyrum Project, including Hyrum Dam and Reservoir, will remain in federal ownership and will continue to operate through a partner agreement with the Wellsville-Mendon Conservation District. This action continues Reclamation’s commitment to transferring appropriate water-related facilities under the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (P.L. 116-9). The Act expedites the title transfer process for eligible projects, such as dams, canals and other water-related facilities.

“The Department of the Interior recently completed the first two water project transfers under the Dingell Act in Utah, and I’m pleased to continue the Trump Administration’s focus on removing bureaucratic obstacles and enabling local control for water-related infrastructure,” said Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tim Petty, Ph.D. “The irrigation district has paid for these facilities and they’ve been operating and maintaining them for years; it’s time to hand over ownership and reduce federal control.”

“Thanks to the Reclamation team and all of our partners in Utah for making this transfer possible. The infrastructure requirements of each water district are unique and local water users know best how to operate and upgrade infrastructure to meet their needs,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman.

“I commend the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation for working with the Wellsville-Mendon Conservation District to expeditiously complete another title transfer in Utah,” said Senator Mike Lee. “Gaining title to the Hyrum-Mendon Canal and the Wellsville Canal will give the District more flexibility to manage its infrastructure and better serve water users in southwest Cache Valley. This transfer is a true win-win for the District and the Bureau of Reclamation.”

“It is a very good thing when rights and responsibilities are returned from federal control into the hands of those who are closest to them,” Senator Mitt Romney said. “Today’s transfer is another step toward Utah gaining more control of our land and our infrastructure. With the transfer of the Hyrum-Mendon Canal and Wellsville Canal, the communities in the northern part of our state will be able to manage their water in order to better meet their needs. This is a great day for the Wellsville-Mendon Conservation District, whose work and hard-fought efforts have paid off. One of my first actions in the Senate was co-sponsoring and working to maintain Utah portions of the public lands package, and I will continue the fight for greater local involvement in the decision making over our lands and resources.”

“The authority within the lands package Congress passed at the start of this session is the gift that keeps on giving,” said Congressman Rob Bishop. “After the historic title transfers we celebrated earlier this month, I’m pleased the Administration is moving forward with yet another transfer and reduction of the federal estate. The transfer of the Hyrum-Mendon Canal and Wellsville Canals will improve stewardship and efficiency at both the federal and local level.”

The Hyrum Project was authorized by Congress under the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 and includes Hyrum Dam and Reservoir, Hyrum Feeder Canal, Wellsville Canal and the Hyrum-Mendon Canal. Only the Wellsville and Hyrum-Mendon Canals and their associated lands are affected by this transfer. The project stores water from the Little Bear River and delivers irrigation water to about 8,800 acres

“The title transfer will be a good thing for the District. It will benefit our water users by keeping operations at the local level and help us seek new sources of funding to maintain and upgrade the canals,” said Wellsville-Mendon Conservation District President Quinn Murray. “This transfer will promote better opportunities for cost-effective operation and ensure long-term benefits to the water users. Reclamation has been very supportive of the title transfer.”

As required by the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, 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.

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The Bureau of Reclamation is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior and is the nation's largest wholesale water supplier and second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Our facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation opportunities, and environmental benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR; Facebook @bureau.of.reclamation; LinkedIn @Bureau of Reclamation; Instagram @bureau_of_reclamation; and YouTube @reclamation.