The Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation is “not making steady progress toward repaying federal investments” in the vast Central Valley Project, auditors warn in a new report.
Citing variations in water deliveries from year to year, as well as apparent issues with the CVP contracts themselves, auditors with the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General caution that at current rates, the CVP water users will fail to meet the 2030 deadline for repaying the federal government. The 20-page report, issued Thursday, notes that:
“When actual water deliveries are less than projected deliveries, revenues are insufficient to recover the Federal investment in the project. When actual water deliveries exceed projected deliveries, however, existing contract provisions stipulate that excess revenues collected by USBR must be refunded to the contractors. As a result, USBR has not demonstrated steady progress toward recovery of Federal investments in the CVP.”
The auditors further warn that “the repayment shortfalls could become significant enough to require political intervention.” The shortfall could be significant: auditors noted that “if recent CVP water delivery trends continue, repayment of the capital investment in the CVP irrigation facilities could be short by between $330 and $390 million by 2030.”