Bureau of Reclamation:

Unauthorized Recreation Facilities at Two Reclamation Projects

RCED-93-115: Published: Sep 16, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 19, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the appropriateness of the Bureau of Reclamation's expenditures for the Drainage and Minor Construction (D&MC) Program, focusing on whether: (1) some facilities constructed at federal water projects are recreational instead of minimum public health and safety facilities; (2) Reclamation has exceeded the authorized funds for constructing recreation facilities at these projects; and (3) Reclamation has entered into required cost-sharing agreements.

GAO found that: (1) Reclamation has requested funds for minimum public health and safety facilities in its D&MC budget requests, but it has used some of those funds for recreational facilities at the projects; (2) although the Department of the Interior agrees that the recreational facilities do not constitute minimum public health and safety facilities, it believes that they are necessary to prevent the rapid deterioration of project reservoir resources; (3) Reclamation has exceeded authorized funding for recreation facilities at the projects; (4) Reclamation has not entered into all of the required cost-sharing agreements; (5) although Reclamation has shared some construction costs with nonfederal entities, it plans to allocate most of its funds to authorized irrigation and power projects; and (6) Reclamation has funded almost all operation and maintenance costs of the facilities because of its failure to enter into cost-sharing agreements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Reclamation has not located nonfederal entities to recoup past expenses; however, it has taken action to share future costs. Reclamation issued directives for implementing cost-sharing for recreation facilities under title 28 of Public Law 89-72 (as amended by Public Law 102-575). Idaho authorized its State Parks Department to share with Reclamation any deficits from operating and maintaining recreation facilities at Cascade Reservoir and agreed to provide state funding beginning in 1997. Also, Reclamation issued a request for bids for a concessioner to manage and operate recreation facilities at Black Canyon Reservoir.

    Recommendation: For existing recreation facilities at the Boise Project, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Commissioner of Reclamation to enter into agreements with nonfederal entities to: (1) recoup federal construction expenditures in excess of $100,000 per reservoir as well as past operating and maintenance costs; and (2) share the future costs to operate and maintain the facilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Reclamation has not located nonfederal entities to recoup past expenses; however, it has taken action to share future costs. Reclamation issued directives for implementing cost-sharing for recreation facilities under title 28 of Public Law 89-72 (as amended by Public Law 102-575). Reclamation and Idaho signed an agreement to equally share operation and maintenance deficits at Lake Walcott for the next 20 years.

    Recommendation: For existing recreation facilities at the Minidoka Project's Lake Walcott, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Commissioner of Reclamation to enter into agreements with nonfederal entities to: (1) recoup federal construction expenditures in excess of the $760,000 authorized by Congress as well as past operating and maintenance costs; and (2) share the future costs to operate and maintain the facilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Reclamation has not located nonfederal entities to recoup past expenses; however, it has taken action to share future costs. Reclamation issued directives for implementing cost-sharing for recreation facilities under title 28 of Public Law 89-72 (as amended by Public Law 102-575). For the Boise Project, Idaho is sharing costs of operating and maintaining recreation facilities at Cascade Reservoir and a concessioner is operating and managing recreation facilities at Black Canyon Reservoir. For the Minidoka Project, Reclamation and Idaho signed an agreement to equally share operation and maintenance deficits at Lake Walcott for the next 20 years.

    Recommendation: If Reclamation cannot find nonfederal entities willing to share construction and operating and maintenance costs at one or both projects, then the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Commissioner of Reclamation to either: (1) obtain specific authorization from Congress to continue operating and maintaining the facilities at the expense of U.S. taxpayers; or (2) stop funding the facilities' operation and maintenance.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In January 1994, Reclamation suspended construction activities at these projects.

    Recommendation: For recreation facilities that are either under construction or planned at the Boise and Minidoka projects, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Commissioner of Reclamation to cease further construction or contracting for construction until Reclamation has either: (1) entered into agreements with nonfederal entities to share construction and operating and maintenance costs; or (2) received specific authorization from Congress to construct, operate, and maintain the facilities at U.S. taxpayer expense.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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