Division of Water and Power
It is the mission of the Division of Water and Power (DWP) to promote self-determination, economic opportunities, and public safety through the sound management of irrigation, dam, and power facilities owned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
In support of this mission, DWP is committed to: 1) Hiring, training and retaining highly qualified personnel to manage, operate, maintain and construct/rehabilitate DWP infrastructure and to conduct financial matters that support these activities; 2) Providing our stakeholders with quality services and improved accountability, including protecting and preserving life, property and trust resources; 3) Promoting the transfer of management, administration, operation, maintenance and/or rehabilitation of irrigation, dam and power facilities to tribes, irrigators and/or water users associations; 4) Fostering communication, cooperation, and consultation among federal, state, tribal and local organizations related to irrigation, power and dam safety activities; 5) Promoting state-of-the-art technologies to improve the management and conservation of water resources in a sustainable manner, while maximizing the economic benefits to our stakeholders; and 6) Approaching all tasks with a “can-do” attitude, encouraging modern business practices and innovative business techniques to meet the ever-changing needs of our stakeholders.
The DWP is executed under the direction of two different Deputy Directors of the BIA: 1) the Deputy Bureau Director – Trust Services oversees the DWP Central Office functions; and 2) the Deputy Bureau Director – Field Operations oversees the Regional Office and local Irrigation and Power Project and Safety of Dams functions. The program is responsible for the management, operation, maintenance, and asset management of BIA owned irrigation and power projects, and under the safety of dams portion, for maintenance and rehabilitation of dams on Indian lands (not just BIA owned). This program receives just under $50 million Congressional appropriated funds annually and generates revenues for the irrigation and power projects of $80 to 90 million annually.
The Central Office staff provide policy, oversight, advisory, and technical support to Regions and Agencies on Water Resources, Irrigation, Power, and Safety of Dams. Central Office staff are located at the following:
At the two of the three revenue generating power projects, BIA Power Project staff provide the actual operations and maintenance of the distribution systems. The third BIA owned Power project is Mission Valley Power, on the Flathead Indian Reservation, and is contracted to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes under a P.L. 93-638 contract.
Safety of Dams:
IPSOD has developed a 24/7 Early Warning System National Monitoring Center (NMC). The NMC will monitor the early warnings systems on the high and significant hazard dams under the jurisdiction of the BIA. The NMC is the key in providing significantly enhanced public safety to populations downstream from BIA dams. To protect downstream residents, the BIA has been installing Early Warning Systems (EWS) on these dams since 1992. These systems provide early warning of dam emergencies to ensure the safety of the downstream residents.
Main Functions of Safety of Dams Program include: Managing design and rehabilitation construction for high and significant hazard dams to correct identified safety deficiencies; Performing security reviews to ensure adequate security for key dam facilities and structures (in light of credible threats) and if required, installation of security equipment ; Resolving expedited dam safety actions (EDSA) which are safety problems identified on high or significant hazard dams which need to be corrected in the short term; Ensuring early warning systems (EWS) and emergency action plans (EAP) are developed, implemented, and maintained effectively; Performing inspections and evaluations on high hazard dams and Safety and Evaluation of Existing Dams (SEED) inspections on dams on a one to three year cycle; and Ensuring recurring maintenance and repair is scheduled annually on high and significant hazard dams.
Irrigation, Power and Safety of Dams (IPSOD) Program Outlook to the Future: The vision of the BIA IPSOD program is where all BIA irrigation, power, and dam infrastructure is maintained at a level comparable to facilities in the non-Federal sector; where we keep stakeholders informed, and water and power is distributed as required; where dams on Indian lands do not present an unacceptable risk to downstream lives and property; and where all program activities are performed in an economically, technically, environmentally, and culturally sound manner.
To accomplish this vision, this program has initiated various goals. In the Irrigation program, the goal is to improve the management of land and natural resource assets through the delivery of water consistent with applicable state and Federal law, in an environmentally responsible and cost-efficient manner. On March 31, 2008, the updated 25 Code of Federal Regulations Part 171 became effective. This updated regulation has new provisions which will allow the irrigation projects to be more productive. A major problem on BIA irrigation projects is idle lands, lands that are not being farmed due to needed improvements to the land. The updated regulations allow incentive agreements for farmers not to pay irrigation operation and maintenance charges for up to three years if they improve these lands. This could bring more lands into production.
In the Power Program, the goal is to reliably and efficiently deliver electrical power to authorized power consumers and users by operating, maintaining and rehabilitating power system infrastructure on each project including: power generating facilities, power substations, electrical switching stations, transmission lines, distribution lines and deteriorated infrastructures. The BIA is working towards a single power billing, collection and debt management system, which will allow the power project to maintain a business approach to billing and collection, while following all Federal financial policies.
The goal of the BIA Safety of Dams program is protecting lives, resources and property. The objective of the program is to correct identified safety deficiencies in Bureau dams, which will mitigate hazards to the public. This program is reviewing its current policy on correcting deficiencies on dams to determine if the current approach is reducing dam safety risks to the general public is satisfactory. It is developing a risk base approach to identify the highest dam failure risks, based on probability of failure and downstream consequences. The new policy would focus funding on the highest risk failure modes at each dam in the program.
Irrigation, Power and Safety of Dams Program Key Challenges. Some of the Irrigation, Power and Safety of Dams program’s key challenges are listed as follows.