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86TH CONGRESS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 1st Session
REPORT No. 622
SPOKANE VALLEY FEDERAL RECLAMATION PROJECT, WASHINGTON AND IDAHO
JULY 1, 1959.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. ROGERS of Texas, from the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, submitted the following
[To accompany H.R. 804]
The Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 804) to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to construct, operate, and maintain the Spokane Valley Federal reclamation project, Washington and Idaho, and for other purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
The amendment is as follows:
Page 2, line 20, strike out the first sentence of section 3 and insert in lieu thereof the following:
There is hereby authorized to be appropriated for construc-
The purpose of H.R. 804, introduced by Mr. Horan, is to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to construct, operate, and maintain the Spokane Valley Federal reclamation project, Washington and Idaho. The proposed Spokane Valley project is a single-purpose irrigation development.
This proposed development would replace an existing water supply that is obtained by gravity diversion from the Spokane River. The existing gravity system is deteriorating rapidly and in need of major
rehabilitation. A section of the main canal is in danger of failure because of its precarious location on a steep alluvial bank above the river and several flumes in the main canal are almost beyond use. One branch of the canal recently washed out and complete failure is imminent. Water supplies to project lands could be cut off at any time. It has been determined that a new system for pumping from the underground reservoir would better meet the needs of the area than replacement of the gravity system.
The Spokane Valley project lands, consisting of 10,290 acres, are located along the Spokane River just east of Spokane, Wash., with a small portion, 197 acres, across the State line in Idaho. There are 8,370 acres that are presently irrigated and 1,920 acres that are now dry. The Washington lands are within seven organized irrigation districts and the small area in Idaho is served by the Spokane Valley Farms Co.
No material change in the agricultural economy of the area is expected under project development. It is anticipated that the economy of the area under project operation will continue to range from general farming on full-time farms to production of specialized crops on part-time farms and suburban-type homesites. Crops grown are primarily small grains, peas and beans, alfalfa, irrigated pastures, tree fruit, and truck and specialty crops. The general crops are grown on the larger size farms while the smaller farms and the suburban-type holdings produce the tree fruits and truck and specialty crops.
About two-thirds of the project area and more than 98 percent of the ownerships are in plots less than 30 acres in size. There are four holdings in excess of 160 acres, to which the recordable contract procedure prescribed by the Federal reclamation laws will be applicable.
PLAN OF DEVELOPMENT
The plan of development proposed would provide a full water supply to the 10,290 acres by pumping from ground water of which there is an adequate supply. This development would replace the existing diversion from the Spokane River. A new pressure pipe distribution system would be constructed and would provide for sprinkler irrigation. The major facilities would include wells, pumps, steel tank regulating reservoirs, and pipe distribution systems.
Electric power for project pumping would be supplied by the Washington Water Power Co. under terms of an agreement which takes into consideration the benefits to the company resulting from increased power generation at the company's plants from use of the irrigators' river water rights.
It is anticipated that, in the interest of efficiency and economy, a central organization covering all of the lands served by the project in Washington, and perhaps those in Idaho as well, will be formed for the purposes of contract negotiation, repayment, and overall project operation.
FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC ASPECTS
The estimated cost of the Spokane Valley project is $5,100,000, all of which is allocated to irrigation and is reimbursable. The bill provides that the total amount shall be repaid by the water users over a period of 50 years excluding any development period which may be required. The new lands probably will require a development period. Because such a large percentage of the area is in part-time farms and suburban-type homesites, it is difficult to determine repayment ability. Repayment willingness, therefore, is an important factor in determining the repayment potential. The Interior Department takes the position that it would not impose an undue burden on the water users to require full repayment of all costs over a period of 50 years. It seemed to the committee also that full repayment could be accomplished in 50 years and it therefore rejected the proposal of representatives of the water users that the amount to be repaid be reduced. The principal justification offered for this proposal was that it was questionable whether the districts would accept a contract requiring full repayment.
During its consideration of project repayment, the committee also discussed the matter of development periods generally. In this connection, the committee wants to make clear its position that a development period should be given only in those instances where it is required and justified and that the general authority to allow such a period should not be used to provide a moratorium on payments or to extend the repayment period.
The Spokane Valley project is a good project from an economic standpoint. The evaluated annual benefits exceed the estimated annual costs by a ratio of 1.87 to 1.
SUPPORT FOR THE PROJECT
The Spokene Valley project has the unanimous support of the local people. The local districts contributed funds to aid in financing the investigations. The project has the endorsement and approval of the State of Washington and no objections to it were raised by any of the Federal agencies reviewing the project report.
The project feasibility report of the Department was submitted to Congress on May 9, 1958, and has been printed as House Document No. 352 of the 85th Congress. The Secretary of the Interior recommends, both in the project report and in the report on the legislation, that the Spokane Valley project be authorized and constructed.
COMMITTEE'S CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION
On the basis of its consideration and examination of the Spokane Valley project, the committee finds this proposed development to be physically and economically feasible and urgently needed to prevent economic disaster in the project area. This is a good project from both an economic and financial standpoint and the full cost would be repaid in 50 years without power or other assistance. The Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs recommends enactment of H.R. 804, as amended.
The report of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 804, recommending its enactment, follows:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Hon. WAYNE N. ASPINALL,
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY, Washington, D.C., March 16, 1959.
Chairman, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs,
DEAR MR. ASPINALL: A report has been requested from this Department on H.R. 804, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to construct, operate and maintain the Spokane Valley Federal reclamation project, Washington and Idaho, and for other purposes.
We recommend that the bill be enacted.
The Spokane Valley project lands are located along the Spokane River just east of Spokane, Wash., with a small portion, 197 acres, across the State line in Idaho. This is wholly an irrigation project, and consists of 10,290 acres of land of which 8,370 acres are presently irrigated and 1,920 acres are now dry. The lands are contained in seven irrigation districts in Washington and the small area in Idaho which is served by the Spokane Valley Farms Co. It is anticipated that the economy of the area under project development will range primarily from general farming on full-time farms to the production of specialized crops on part-time farms and suburban-type homesites. The proposed plan of development provides for serving the project area by pumping from ground water, of which there is an adequate supply. This would replace the existing water supply that is obtained by gravity diversion from the Spokane River. New pressure pipe distribution systems would be constructed and would provide for sprinkler irrigation. Major facilities would include wells, pumps, steel tank regulating reservoirs, and pipe distribution systems.
The existing gravity water system is deteriorated and in need of a major rehabilitation. A section of the main canal, which is a joint facility of all the districts, is in danger of being lost because of its precarious location on a steep alluvial bank above the river and several flumes in the main canal are urgently in need of replacement.
The project has engineering feasibility and is economically justified. The estimated construction cost is $5,100,000 in terms of January 1959 prices. The entire cost is allocable to irrigation and is reimbursable under the bill over a 50-year period.
Our studies indicate that a combination of an acreage charge ($11 per acre) and a service charge ($15 per turnout), as heretofore contemplated in our project planning report (H. Doc. 352, 85th Cong.) under the somewhat lower construction cost estimate of $4,280,000 (1955 prices) would repay about 85 percent of the $5,100,000 in this period and would, in addition, permit those districts with existing indebtedness to provide necessary funds to retire their outstanding bonds. Increased revenues could be obtained by an increase in the individual service charge, an increase in the number of turnouts, or a combination of both, whichever may be agreed upon with the local water users.