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Prior to the founding of Hobbs Straus, Jerry Straus was lead Washington, D.C. counsel in the first large scale case for the restoration of historic Indian land – the restoration of the 48,000 acre Blue Lake lands to the Taos Pueblo.

General Memorandum 17-015

General Memorandum 17-015
BIA Office of Trust Services Initiates Tribal Consultation on Safety of Indian Dams

On February 2, 2017, the Water and Power Division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Trust Services (BIA) published a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER initiating tribal consultation to determine deferred maintenance needs and funding prioritization criteria for Indian dams (dates and times listed below). A second notice was published announcing a public teleconference to solicit comments and recommendations from landowners served by relevant Indian dams. Written comments must be received by March 3, 2017.

Background. The poor condition of Indian dams and the levels of deferred maintenance were the impetus for Senator Barrasso's (R-WY) introduction of S 2717, the Dam Repairs and Improvements for Tribes Act of 2016 (DRIFT Act). Ultimately, the DRIFT Act was incorporated as Sec. 3101 of the Water Infrastructure Investments for the Nation Act (WIIN Act, PL 114-322, signed December 16, 2016), the most recent Water Resources Development Act reauthorization. Section 3101 of the WIIN Act establishes a program to address the deferred maintenance needs of Indian dams and authorizes $32.75 million per year ($22.75 million designated for high- and significant-hazard potential dams and $10 million designated for low-hazard potential dams), plus accrued interest, for each of the fiscal years 2017 through 2023. Subject to appropriations, the funds would be available to carry out maintenance, repair, and replacement activities for qualified Indian dams. Section 3101 also requires the BIA to (1) consult with tribes and solicit comments from landowners served by relevant Indians dams within 60 days of the Act's passage; and (2) submit a report to Congress within 120 days of of the law's enactment (by April 14, 2017).

Purpose. The purpose of initiating consultation and soliciting comments is to determine how to address the deferred maintenance needs of Indian dams and funding prioritization criteria for distributing funds from the High-Hazard Indian Dam Safety Deferred Maintenance Fund and the Low-Hazard Indian Dam Safety Deferred Maintenance Fund.

Eligibility. The WIIN Act defines eligible dams as those that are included under the Indian Dams Safety Act of 1994 and that are: (1) Owned by the Federal Government (per Executive Order 13327) and managed by the BIA, including dams managed under Indian Self-Determination contracts or compacts; or (2) have deferred maintenance identified by the BIA. BIA explains that all tribes are potentially affected by the Indian Dam Safety component of the WIIN Act because while BIA has an inventory of high-hazard potential dams, no such inventory yet exists for low-hazard potential dams. For this reason, BIA also asks that Tribes notify Yulan Jin, Division Chief, Water and Power, (202) 219-0941, yulan.jin@bia.gov of any low-hazard potential dams subject to the Indian Dams Act of 1994.
Tribal Consultation Sessions. The BIA will be hosting three in-person tribal consultation sessions. Additionally, two webinars will be held for tribes unable to make an in-person session. BIA is developing drafts of the programmatic goals and funding prioritization criteria for discussion at the consultation sessions, available at: https://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/BIA/OTS/IPSOD/index.htm

FEDERAL REGISTER notice: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/02/02/2017-02200/water-in...

Date Time Location
Monday, February 6, 2017 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Local Time Bureau of Indian Affairs, Medicine Wheel Room—Third Floor, 2021 4th Avenue North, Billings, MT 59101.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Local Time Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Silver/Turquoise Conference Room, 2401 12th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104.
Friday, February 10, 2017 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Local Time Bureau of Indian Affairs, Federal Building Auditorium, 911 NE 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232.
Monday, February 13, 2017 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Eastern Time Call-in number: (888) 810-4934, Passcode: 7199390.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Eastern Time Call-in number: (888) 810-4934, Passcode: 7199390.

Public Teleconference. The BIA will be hosting a public meeting by teleconference on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Eastern Time. The call-in number is (800) 857-9738 and the passcode is 7199390.

FEDERAL REGISTER notice: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/02/02/2017-02201/water-in...

Please let us know if we may provide additional information or assistance preparing comments.

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Inquiries may be directed to:
Geoff Strommer (gstrommer@hobbsstraus.com)
Moriah O'Brien (mobrien@hobbsstraus.com)

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