H.R. 1607 would direct the Forest Service to withdraw land, which CBO expects would total about 17,000 acres, from the National Forest System in an area adjacent to the Salt River Project (SRP) in Arizona and transfer it to the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). The bill also would clarify that regulatory jurisdiction to develop hydroelectricity and power transmission on that land would be the responsibility of BOR.
The SRP is owned and regulated by BOR and jointly operated by the Salt River Valley Water User’s Association and the Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District. The project consists of seven dams and reservoirs, 1,300 miles of conveyance infrastructure, and five hydroelectric plants on the Salt and Verde Rivers that supply water and power to central Arizona.
Two agreements signed in 1917 and 1979 among the association, the district, the Forest Service, and BOR set guidelines for managing the lands withdrawn from the National Forest System for SRP purposes; such withdrawals have occurred about 50 times since 1903. The agreements also authorize the association and district to construct power infrastructure and retain receipts from power sales for the SRP.