Washington : Government Printing Office
The Honorable, the SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.
MR. DEAR MR. SECRETARY: Reference is made to the matter of assessments for repayment to the Government of the construction costs incurred in the construction of the Wapato Indian irrigation project on the Yakima Indian Reservation, Washington.
The Act of Congress of February 14, 1920 (41 Stat., 431) provided for the use of the sum of $250,000 for continuing the construction and enlargement of the Wapato irrigation and drainage system and among other things provided as follows:
That the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized and directed to collect on or before December 31 of each calendar year hereafter including 1920, from the white landowners under the said system the sum of $5 per acre for each acre of land to which water for irrigation purposes can be delivered from the said system, which sum shall be credited on a per acre basis in favor of the land in behalf of which it shall have been paid and be deducted from the total per acre charge assessable against said land when the amount of such total charge can be determined,
It will be observed from the above quotation that no determination had been made at that time of the total construction cost that will finally be charged against each acre of land of that project but provision is made that any collections shall be credited against such total charge when the amount thereof can be determined. No such determination has as yet been made, and all rates of assessment heretofore fixed, as well as the rate now fixed, provide for only partial reimbursement of the construction costs.
On December 16, 1920, the Indian Office addressed a letter of instructions to the Supervising Engineer in charge of the Wapato project, which letter received departmental approval on December 20, 1920 (Indian Office file 51656-20-341 Part 1). The purpose of that letter was to direct the Supervising Engineer in the application of the provisions of the act of Congress above cited.
Subsequently the Act of Congress of May 25, 1922 (42 Stat., 595) modified Section 22 of the Act of February 14, 1920, supra, so as to read as follows:
That the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized and directed to collect on or before December 81 of each calendar year hereafter, including, 1922, from landowners other than Indians under the said system the sum of $2.50 per acre for each acre of land to whirl, water for irrigation purposes can be delivered from the said system, which sum shall be credited of a per acre basis in favor of the land in behalf of which it shall have been paid and be deducted from tire total per acre charge assessable against said land when the amount of such total charge can be determined,
Under date of June 12, 1922 (Indian Office file 51656-20-341 Part 1) the Office addressed another letter to the Supervising Engineer which received departmental approval on the same date. That letter contains appropriate instructions for applying the provisions of the legislation quoted above and to that extent modified and superseded the letter of instructions approved on December 20, 1920.
The correspondence on file (Indian Office file 9001-36-0-c) shows that the non-Indian landowners of the Wapato project have availed themselves of the benefits afforded by the various relief acts of Congress as follows: the Act of January 26, 1933 (47 Stat., 776) authorized the deferment of all construction assessments for the season of 1931 and one-half of the assessments for the season of 1932. The Act of March 7, 1933 (47 Stat., 1427) authorized the deferment of the remaining one-half of the assessments for 1932 and all assessments for 1933. The Act of June 13, 1935 (49 Stat., 337) authorized the deferment of all assessments for the years 1934 and 1935. The Act of April 14, 1936 (49 Stat., 1206) authorized the deferment of one-half of the assessments for the season of 1936. The repayment commission authorized by the Act of August 21, 1937 (50 Stat., 737) recommended the deferment of one-half of the construction assessments on the Wapato project for the season of 1937, which recommendation was approved by the Department on April 18, 1938 (Indian Office file 9228-36-G).
The deferred assessments discussed in the preceding paragraph are in each instance to become due as an annual installment one year after the date on which the last preceding installment becomes due under the existing laws and regulations.
The Act of Congress of July 1, 1932 (47
Stat., 564-565), known as the Leavitt Act, releases all Indian lands from further assessments for construction costs so long as such lands remain in Indian ownership.
The recent Act of Congress of February 24, 1938 (Public 433-75th Cong.) further modifies the Acts of February 14, 1920, supra, and May 25, 1922, supra as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That so much of the Act approved February 14, 1920 (41 Stat., 431, as amended by the Act approved May 25, 1922 (42 Stat. L. 595 and 596), as fixes the annual rate of payment of irrigation construction costs or assessments on the Wapato Indian irrigation project on the Yakima Reservation in the State of Washington, be, and it is hereby, amended so as to fix the per-acre per-annum assessment rate at $1.25 against those lands classed as A or B which are subject to construction assessments pursuant to existing law. Such rate is to take effect immediately upon approval of this Act and shall continue until the total cost assessable under existing law against such of the A and B lands shall have been repaid.
SECTION 2. The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized and directed to modify the annual repayment schedule set forth in the memorandum agreement of March 9, 1921, approved March 31, 1921, as amended, wherein provision is made among other thins for payment of the actual cost of the two hundred and fifty thousand acre-feet of water for certain of the lands under the Wapato Indian irrigation project so as to extend payment of the balance of the cost of such water over a twenty-four-year period commencing with the payment due December 31, 1937.
Further legislation is contemplated at the next session of Congress (1st session of 76th Cong.) with a view to carrying out the provisions of Section 2 of the act quoted above (Indian Office file 9228-36-R & X).
Pursuant to the recent legislation herein cited it is recommended that all prior instructions issued for the assessment of construction costs against the lands of the Wapato project be modified in so far as they may conflict with the legislation and the instructions contained herein, and it is also recommended that the Project Engineer be instructed to make the necessary preparations for the assessment of all lands in non-Indian ownership, which are properly subject to assessment under the existing laws and regulations, at the rate of $1.25 per acre for the season of 1938 and for each succeeding year until further modified, such assessments to become due and payable on December 31 of each year.
Approved, August 3, 1938.
OSCAR L. CHAPMAN,
Assistant Secretary of the Interior.