Hoeven: BOR Designates Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District as Operator of Oakes Test Area

Designation is a Key Step toward Title Transfer; Senator Continues Working with BOR Regional Director to Complete Process

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has signed a contractdesignating the Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District (DSID) as the operator of the Oakes Test Area. This action formally recognizes the irrigation district’s longtime role in fulfilling many of the duties and responsibilities in operating and maintaining the facility.

Further, it is a key step toward completing the title transfer process for the test area, which Hoeven has been working to advance, including in a call to BOR Great Plains Regional Director Mike Black last week. In the call, the senator reviewed the progress on negotiations between BOR and DSID and again urged the agency to continue working towards meeting the terms of the transfer process, which Hoeven announced last year.

“Formally transferring the operations and maintenance responsibilities for the Oakes Test Area to the Dickey-Sargent Irrigation District is a central part of the plan we secured last year,” said Hoeven. “We appreciate BOR’s continued efforts with us to move this process forward. Doing so will ensure the facility can be put to best use for the benefit of agriculture producers in this region.”

The Oakes Test Area was established at the recommendation of the International Joint Commission, but no longer receives federal appropriations. The local irrigation district continues to make use of the facility, but is unable to make modifications due to the required federal approval process. 

Hoeven helped pass legislation last year that would remove the need for congressional authorization prior to transferring the title of a BOR project facility, such as the Oakes Test Area. The senator met with local stakeholders to help advance negotiations and has repeatedly stressed to BOR officials that the price of the 32 year-old facility should reflect the present state of the infrastructure, including its size and maintenance costs. 

Hoeven has also introduced legislation, with Senator Kevin Cramer as an original cosponsor, to authorize the title transfer of the facility. The senator has been working to allow the DSID to purchase the facility since meeting with the Garrison Diversion in 2018.