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Calendar No. 302
106th Congress Report
1st Session 106-172
DICKINSON DAM BASCULE GATES SETTLEMENT ACT OF 1999
October 6, 1999.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 769]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 769) to provide a final settlement on
certain debt owed by the city of Dickinson, North Dakota, for
construction of the bascule gates on the Dickinson Dam, having
considered the same, reports favorably thereon with an
amendment and recommends that the bill, as amended, do pass.
The amendment is as follows:
On page 4, lines 11 through 20, strike subsection 4(c) in
its entirety and insert the following:
``(c) Costs.--(1) The Secretary shall enter into an agreement with
the City to allocate responsibilities for operation and maintenance
costs of the bascule gates as provided in this subsection.
``(2) The City shall be responsible for operation and maintenance
costs of the bascule gates, up to a maximum annual cost of $15,000. The
Secretary shall be responsible for all other costs.''.
purpose of the measure
The purpose of S. 769 is to provide a final settlement on
certain debt owed by the city of Dickinson, North Dakota, for
the construction of the bascule gates on the Dickinson Dam.
background and need
Title II of Public Law 94-228 authorized the Secretary of
the Interior to modify the spillway of Dickinson Dam to
increase storage capacity. The city of Dickinson was to repay
the portion of costs allocable to municipal and industrial
water supplies. Installation of a bascule gate was selected as
the least cost alternative. The Bureau of Reclamation estimated
that installing a fixed crest would cost twice as much as the
gates. The city believes that a fixed crest would have cost
less than the bascule gates. In addition, the city believes the
gates were an experiment and not appropriate to a cold climate,
thus costs increased due to overruns, poor design and
lengthened construction time for modifications to prevent
future excessive ice loading.
Construction on the gates was completed in 1982. In 1987,
the city's repayment obligation was reduced from $3.2 million
to $1.625 million to offset cost increases from the original
estimates. The $1.625 million debt is to be repaid over a 40-
year term at 7.21 percent. The annual payment is $124,872.51.
In 1991, the city began receiving its municipal and
industrial water from the Southwest Water Authority, which
receives higher quality water from the Southwest Pipeline
Project, and no longer requires the additional water provided
by the bascule gates for its municipal water supply.
S. 769 was introduced by Senators Conrad and Dorgan on
April 13, 1999. A hearing was held in the Water and Power
Subcommittee on May 27, 1999. At the business meeting on
September 22, 1999, the Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources ordered S. 769, as amended, favorably reported.
committee recommendations and tabulation of votes
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on September 22, 1999, by a unanimous vote of
a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 769, if
amended as described herein.
During the consideration of S. 769, the Committee adopted
an amendment that would require the city to pay annual
operations and maintenance costs for the bascule gates, up to a
maximum of $15,000. Annual O&M; costs beyond $15,000 would be
the responsibility of the Federal government. O&M; costs have
averaged about $9,000 over the past 10 years.
summary of the measure
As ordered reported, S. 769 requires the Secretary of the
Interior to accept $300,000 in lieu of existing repayment
obligations for construction of the bascule gates on the
Dickinson Dam. The measure also defines responsibility for
operations and maintenance costs.
cost and budgetary considerations
The following estimate of the cost of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, October 1, 1999.
Hon. Frank H. Murkowski,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate,
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 769, the Dickinson
Dam Bascule Settlement Act of 1999.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are John R.
Righter (for federal costs) and Marjorie Miller (for the state
and local impact).
Barry B. Anderson
(For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
S. 769--Dickinson Dam Bascule Gates Settlement Act of 1999
CBO estimates that enacting S. 769 would increase direct
spending by a total of about $600,000 over the 2000-2004
period, but that the change in direct spending would be less
than $500,000 in each year. Because the bill would affect
direct spending, pay-as-you-go procedures would apply. In
addition, subject to the availability of appropriated funds,
CBO estimates that implementing S. 769 would increase costs for
the Bureau of Reclamation by a negligible amount over the 2000-
2004 period. S. 769 contains no intergovernmental or private-
sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal
governments. Because this bill would significantly reduce the
amount owed to the federal government by the city of Dickinson,
North Dakota, the city would benefit from its enactment.
S. 769 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to accept
a one-time payment of $300,000, less certain payments, from the
city of Dickinson as settlement of the city's remaining
obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation for constructing
bascule gates on the Dickinson Dam. (Bascule gates are used to
modify the amount of water that a lake retains.) In addition,
the bill would divide the annual costs to operate and maintain
the gates between the city and the Bureau of Reclamation; the
city would pay the first $15,000 and the bureau would pay the
rest. The federal government would retain title to the gates
According to the Bureau of Reclamation, the city of
Dickinson owes the federal government approximately $1.5
million for the bascule gates, which the bureau constructed
during 1980 and 1981. With interest, that amount will grow to
about $3.75 million by 2027, the final year of a contract that
requires the city to pay the federal government about $125,000
We estimate that enacting S. 769 would result in the
federal government forgoing the collection of debt service
payments from the city. For fiscal years 2000 through 2004, CBO
estimates the amount of forgone receipts would total about
$760,000. In addition to the regular payments scheduled for
each of the next five years, this total includes about $135,000
for the 1998 payment (including interest and penalties), which
the city still owes. In exchange for forgiving the city's
entire debt, the bill would require that Dickinson pay the
federal government an amount equal to $300,000 less any
payments made by it after June 1, 1998. According to the
bureau, the city made a payment of about $140,000 in January
1999; thus, the bill would require that Dickinson make an
additional payment of only about $160,000. In total, CBO
estimates that enacting S. 769 would increase direct spending
by about $600,000 over the 2000-2004 period because we estimate
the city would make a one-time payment of $160,000 to the
Bureau in 2000 in exchange for relief from debt service
payments of $760,000 over the next five years.
In addition, S. 769 would require the city to pay for up to
$15,000 of the annual costs to operate and maintain the bascule
gates. The city currently pays the Bureau of Reclamation for
all such costs. According to the bureau, a payment of up to
$15,000 would cover its costs in most years. In years where
such costs exceed the $15,000 ceiling, the bureau would have to
use its appropriated funds. Thus, subject to the availability
of appropriated funds, CBO estimates that capping the city's
payment would increase costs for the bureau by a negligible
amount over the 2000-2004 period.
The CBO staff contacts are John R. Righter (for federal
costs) and Marjorie Miller (for the state and local impact).
This estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
Regulatory Impact Evaluation
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out S. 769. The bill is not a regulatory measure in
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of S. 769, as ordered reported.
On, April 21, 1999, the Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources requested legislative reports from the Department of
the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget setting
forth Executive agency recommendations on S. 769. These reports
had not been received at the time the report on S. 769 was
filed. When the reports become available, the Chairman will
request that they be printed in the Congressional Record for
the advice of the Senate. The testimony provided by the
Department of the Interior at the Subcommittee hearing follows:
Statement of Patricia J. Beneke, Assistant Secretary for Water and
Science, Department of the Interior
My name is Patricia J. Beneke, I am Assistant Secretary for
Water and Science within the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Bureau of Reclamation is one of the bureaus that I oversee.
I am pleased to be here today to provide the Administration's
views on S. 769 to provide a final settlement on certain debt
owed by the city of Dickinson, North Dakota, for construction
of the Bascule gate on the Dickinson Dam.
S. 769, the Dickinson Dam Bascule Gate Settlement Act of
1999, directs the Secretary of the Interior to accept a one-
time payment of $300,000 in lieu of the existing repayment
obligations of the city and reallocates all operation and
maintenance cost of the Dam and Bascule gate for flood control,
recreation, and fish and wildlife purposes. The Administration
opposes S. 769 as drafted.
A part of the Pick Sloan Missouri River Basin Project, the
Dickinson Unit is a multipurpose unit which provides storage
for irrigation and municipal water, flood control, fish and
wildlife conservation and recreational opportunities. Dickinson
Dam is located on the Heart River about two miles west of
Dickinson which is the county seat of Stark County and the
primary city in the region.
In 1983, modifications were completed to the spillway of
Dickinson Dam to increase storage capacity for the use by the
city of Dickinson. Installation of the Bascule gate was
selected as the least cost alternative for the spillway
modification and the City was to repay all costs allocated to
municipal and industrial water (M&I;) supplies. In December
1987, P.L. 100-202 reduced the City's Bascule gate repayment
obligation from approximately $3.2 million to $1.625 million.
This reduction was intended to offset the cost increases from
the original estimate due primarily to inflation and interest
The Administration has several concerns with S. 769.
1. Capital Cost--The legislation, as currently drafted,
would forgive the City of Dickinson of their remaining
obligation of approximately $1.5 million plus interest they
contractually committed to pay in contract number 9-07-60-
wo384. The one-time payment of $300,000 does not represent a
fair or equitable payment to satisfy their obligation and would
result in a loss to the U.S. Treasury.
2. Reallocation--The proposed reallocation of the operation
and maintenance (O&M;) costs of Dickinson Dam to flood control,
recreation, and fish and wildlife would effectively result in
the United States assuming the Project's entire O&M;
responsibility. This is not an equitable solution since the
benefits of the facility are almost exclusively local. Also, it
imposes an additional financial obligation, presumably
perpetual in nature and which currently varies from $1,500 to
$24,000 per year, on Reclamation at a time when its budget is
3. Local Benefits--S. 769 proposes to forgive the City's
debt and reallocates costs to the Federal government for a
project whose beneficiaries are entirely local. The City
continues to use project water to irrigate a golf course and
dilute sewage lagoon releases. They also receive benefits from
recreational use and fish and wildlife resources on the
4. Reduction in Payment--In addition to the one-time
payment of $300,000, the legislation proposes to further reduce
this amount by subtracting any payments made by the City's
since June 2, 1998. This could result in a one-time payment of
less than $15,000, furthering the loss to the Treasury.
5. Clarification of Findings--Several statements in Sec. 2
of S. 769 need clarification. First, item (1) states that the
gate was constructed to provide additional water supply and for
flood control and other benefits. However, the sole purpose of
the Bascule gate is for municipal and industrial water supply
as reflected in the 100% O&M; allocation for the gates to M&I.;
Second, Item (5) states that the City has repaid more than
$1,200,000 to the United States for the gate construction. This
statement is inaccurate. First, there was the debt reduction
from $3.2 million to $1.625 million included in P.L. 100-202.
Second, the $1,200,000 repaid by the City accounts primarily
for interest payments required under P.L. 100-202 leaving
approximately $1.5 million of the original $1.625 million
remaining to be repaid.
Mr. Chairman, this legislation does not provide the United
States an equitable return for construction costs of the
Bascule gate or for the continued benefits the City receives
from the Reservoir. However, we would be willing to work with
the City, the North Dakota congressional delegation and this
Committee to identify alternatives.
That concludes my testimony, I am pleased to answer any
changes in existing law
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by the bill S. 769, as ordered