Markets for Federal Water: Subsidies, Property Rights, and the Bureau of Reclamation

By Richard W. Wahl | Go to book overview

Appendix
Contract Dispute with Westlands Water District

The pressures to avoid the acreage limitation provisions of Reclamation law and to reduce or avoid the impacts of the operation and maintenance and the "full cost" pricing provisions of the Reclamation Reform Act (RRA) did not end with passage of the act or with the promulgation of regulations under it. Rather they continued during implementation of the regulations and administration of Bureau of Reclamation contracts. The outcome of a contract dispute between the United States and the Westlands Water District exemplifies the situation.

Westlands is a large water district in the San Joaquin Valley of California. It encompasses some 600,000 acres (550,000 of which receive water service) and is the largest single contractor within the Central Valley Project (refer to table 3-1). Actual water deliveries vary by year, but recently contractual entitlements have been about 1,150,000 acre-feet of water annually, approximately one-fourth of the total irrigation deliveries in the project. Because the district contains a high proportion of large farming operations, it was a major presence during the passage of the RRA. Since then, it has sought to relax those provisions of the act that most affect its farming operations. This appendix discusses the actions taken by Westlands regarding its 1963 water supply contract in its attempt to maintain the original water rates charged to it.1


History of the Contract Dispute

The Westlands Water District has been involved in a long-standing dispute with the Department of the Interior over its 1963 water supply contract. Since 1964 it has sought to obtain a firm contract for additional delivery of

The author wishes to thank Richard C. Ready of the Office of Policy Analysis for his assistance in preparing the tables in this appendix and for reviewing the text.

____________________
1
For another account of the settlement of this contract dispute, see Mosher ( 1986).

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