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Doing Business with Irrigation Services

A quick look at some common questions and answers.

To avoid billing errors, please notify your local irrigation office as soon as possible if:

  • your address has changed, or
  • you have sold land, or
  • there is a new lease on land.

What are the governing policies of BIA-owned Indian Irrigation Projects?

  • 25 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 171, is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the BIA. The BIA administers its irrigation projects by enforcing the applicable regulations and policies to ensure the safe, reliable, and efficient administration of its facilities. 
  • Indian Affairs Manual Part 50 Chapter 1 (50 IAM 1), identifies authorities and establishes the policy and responsibilities of BIA-owned Indian irrigation projects where the BIA assesses fees and collects monies to administer, operate, maintain, and rehabilitate each Indian irrigation project.

Why do I need to pay an irrigation bill that I received?

If you own or lease land within an irrigation project, the BIA will assess you annual fees to administer, operate, maintain, and rehabilitate irrigation project facilities. Your bill includes charges for operation and maintenance (O&M) or construction and costs for the current irrigation season.

How does BIA calculate my annual irrigation bill?

The amount due is calculated by multiplying (1) your share in your allotment, farm unit or tribal unit by (2) its acreage by (3) the rate for the project as shown on your bill. The irrigation project may enforce a minimum billing charge, storage fee, or you may have entered into an agreement for a surcharge. In these cases, the formula will not apply.

How will I know if BIA plans to adjust my annual operation and maintenance (O&M) assessment rate?

BIA will provide public notice of proposed O&M rates annually in the Federal Register, publications may be obtained at www.federalregister.gov. You may also contact the irrigation facility servicing your farm unit.

The final rates for the 2023 calendar year for all irrigation projects where we recover costs of administering, operating, maintaining, and rehabilitating them was published in the Federal Register on July 29, 2022.

Why are you collecting my Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)?

This information is being collected from individuals and organizations doing business with the BIA as required under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA).  The principal purpose for collecting this information is for billing, including collections, proper payment application and debt management actions. Failure to provide your TIN may result in ineligibility for irrigation service, waiver, or payment plan.  If the agency is required to file documents with the IRS identifying you, you are required to furnish your TIN pursuant to Treasury Regulation §301.6109-1(b).  If you do not have a TIN, SSN, EIN, or other TIN, you are required to obtain one.  Failure to provide this information, may result in a $50 fine per document filed with the IRS per Treasury Regulation §301.6721.

What can happen if I don't pay my bill on time?

  • BIA will not provide you with irrigation service until your bill is paid or you arrange a payment plan within 30 calendar days after the due date. 

  • If you do not pay your bill prior to the close of business on the 30th day after the due date, BIA considers your bill past due. The BIA will send you a notice and assess you with the following:

    • interest at the rate established by the Secretary of the Treasury in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3717 from the original due date;

    • an administrative charge of $12.50; and

    • 90 days after the due date, your bill shall be assessed with a penalty charge of 6 percent per year accruing from the original due date.

  • BIA will forward your past due bill to the U.S. Treasury, no later than 180 days after the original due date, as required by 31 CFR 901.1.  In addition, per current U.S. Treasury policy, you may be charged fees in excess of 30%.

What if you are experiencing financial hardship, you are a landowner and your land is not leased?

BIA may approve a Payment Plan per 25 CFR § 171.550 if:

  • You certify that you are financially unable to make a lump sum payment;
  • You provide additional information we request, which may include information identified in 31 CFR 901.8, ‘‘Collection in installments’’; and
  • You sign our Payment Plan containing terms and conditions we specify.

Contact your local irrigation office to get started.  You must apply within 30 days of the bill due date.

You will incur additional costs if you are granted a Payment Plan per 25 CFR § 171.555. Payment Plans are not available for supplemental bills, for landowners with an outstanding delinquency, or to landowners who have defaulted on a Payment Plan within the previous six years.

What do you do if your bill is at the U.S. Treasury?

The bill holder should contact the U.S. Treasury Debt Management Center toll free at 1 (888) 826-3127. 

BIA cannot provide payoff balance information on debts that have been referred to the U.S. Treasury. Irrigation project staff may communicate the origin of the debt such as:  the original amount, why the bill was created, and why it is valid to authorized parties only. Third parties must have written authorization from the original bill holder to speak with the U.S. Treasury about another person’s irrigation bill.

My bill is now delinquent, can I get economic relief due to COVID-19 hardship?

Contact the U.S. Treasury Debt Management Center toll free at 1 (888) 826-3127.

If your delinquent debt situation is specifically due to COVID-19, state that you need relief due to COVID-19 hardship.

What if I filed for bankruptcy?

You should ensure that any amounts owed to BIA on the date of your petition for bankruptcy are reflected on your schedules and statement of financial affairs.  If you did not include your BIA debt, you should amend those documents to reflect the debt owed to BIA, and ensure BIA is treated equitably under your plan.  You should provide notice of the bankruptcy to your local irrigation office.  

If the irrigation bill was issued after the date of your bankruptcy petition you should pay the bill, it is not impacted by your bankruptcy filing.

Where can I find a Water Request Form?

You can request irrigation services by first submitting a request for customer information; you can then submit a request for irrigation services (water request form).

Contact Us

Division of Water and Power
13922 Denver West Parkway, Suite 300
Lakewood, CO 80401
Open 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday.

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