September 12, 2000
S. 624 - Fort Peck Reservation Rural Water System
S. 624 directs the Secretary of the Interior to design, construct, operate,
and maintain the Fort Peck Reservation Rural Water System in Montana. The
System would be comprised of two major interconnected rural water supply
projects, including a Tribal water system and a non-Tribal water system.
Although the Administration supports the tribal components of the proposed
water system, the Administration opposes S. 624 because of the
non-Reservation portion of the bill. We would like to continue to work with
the appropriate Committees and the Montana delegation to resolve our
concerns over the bill.
(Hill (R) MT, Burns (R) MT and Baucus (D) MT)
S. 624 would require the Federal Government to pay 76 percent of the
planning and construction costs of the non-Tribal water system at a cost of
approximately $51 million to U.S. taxpayers. Longstanding policy on
non-Tribal rural water systems holds that non-Federal interests should
repay 100 percent of design and construction costs with interest. The
Administration also opposes the incorrect allocation of other projects'
costs incurred by both systems as 100 percent Tribal. As the Federal
Government is paying for the Tribal water system, this incorrect allocation
would provide an additional subsidy for the non-Tribal system
beneficiaries. The Administration also is concerned with provisions that
would assign the ownership and operation of transmission facilities to the
Secretary of the Interior, and about certain other aspects of the bill.