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 President signed into law the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (P.L. 116-9). 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.
Interior Department Finalizes First Ever Categorical Exclusion as Part of Improved Title Transfer Process
Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced two actions that will expedite the transfer of eligible Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) facilities into local ownership and management: a new Categorical Exclusion and an update of Reclamation’s operating manual procedures to streamline the title transfer process. Read More →