On Tuesday, March 7th, 2017, the KID Board of Directors approved a Resolution regarding the exploration of title transfer of the Kennewick Division (KID) from the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). With less than five years remaining on KID’s contract with Reclamation, the Board determined that it may be in the best interest of the District, its customers, and the Kennewick community to pursue title transfer. The Board feels title transfer may provide an opportunity to have more direct control of an important infrastructure asset and could provide value added service to the Districts operations. The KID staff is now looking at this alternative for the District.
Title transfer is a voluntary effort most often initiated by Reclamation water and power contractors such as KID. Currently, Reclamation has established a process to convey ownership (title) to water projects, canals, lateral and other water and power related infrastructure facilities. Since 1996, Reclamation has transferred components of 30 projects.
The title transfer would divest Reclamation of responsibility for the operation, maintenance, management, regulation and liability for the project, lands and facilities of KID. This transfer of title would enhance local control for KID to better provide water for our communities that we serve and would also provide KID with greater autonomy and flexibility to manage its facilities for the benefit of our ratepayers and the region.
Recently, KID Board President Gene Huffman, District Manager Chuck Freeman and Land and Water Resources Manager Seth Defoe were in Washington D.C. for the National Water Resources Association (NWRA) Federal Water Issues Conference. While at the conference they took advantage of the opportunity to speak about this matter with staff from the offices of Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell; Congressman Dan Newhouse and his staff; staff from the the Senate Water and Power Subcommittee; staff from the House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans, staff from Governor Jay Inslee’s D.C. office, as well as the Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, David Murillo, and his senior staff.
Reception of the idea has been positive, and the next steps in title transfer exploration are for KID staff to continue to engage regional stakeholders and partners in the process. KID looks forward to working through this process to ensure that a title transfer benefits the community, the river, and other stakeholders.