The Bureau of Reclamation, established in 1902, has constructed many of the dams, canals, and hydropower plants that provide water and power in the 17 western states. For most of these project facilities, Reclamation has transferred all or part of the responsibility for operation, maintenance and replacement to a project beneficiary. Title, or ownership, to Reclamation facilities, however, remains with the United States Government unless Congress passes legislation directing otherwise.
Since 1995, Reclamation has conveyed title to several project facilities, including dams, reservoirs, canals, laterals, buildings, project lands, and easements to project beneficiaries. The title transfer process followed a framework that Reclamation and its partners collaboratively developed, and which included NEPA and other legal requirements, and involved project stakeholders. Title to these facilities was only transferred to project beneficiaries, usually the operating entities, after the passage of individual acts of Congress.
On March 12, 2019, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (P.L. 116-9) was signed into law. Title VIII of this Act provides Reclamation with new authority to transfer title to certain eligible facilities to qualifying entities without separate and individual acts of Congress.