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Calendar No. 130
106th Congress Report
1st Session 106-60
SEWAGE TREATMENT FACILITY IN SISTERS, OREGON
June 2, 1999.--Ordered to be printed
Filed under authority of the order of the Senate of May 27, 1999
Mr. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 416]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 416) to direct the Secretary of
Agriculture to convey to the city of Sisters, Oregon, a certain
parcel of land for use in connection with a sewage treatment
facility, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon
with amendments and recommends that the bill, as amended, do
The amendments are as follows:
1. On page 2, line 18, delete the words ``Not later than 1
year'' and insert the following: ``As soon as practicable and
upon completion of any documents or analysis required by any
environmental law, but not later than 180 days''.
2. On page 2, strike lines 23 through 25 and insert the
following: ``conveyance, an amount of land that is not more
than is reasonably necessary for a sewage treatment facility
and for the disposal of treated effluent consistent with
``(b) Land Description.--The amount of land conveyed under
subsection (a) shall be not less than 160 acres and not more
than 240 acres from within the following--''
3. On page 3, strike line 17 through 23.
4. On page 3, line 24, strike ``(e)'' and insert ``(d)''.
5. On page 4, strike line 10 and all that follows through
page 5, line 16.
purpose of the measure
The purpose of S. 416, as ordered reported, is to direct
the Secretary of Agriculture to convey a parcel of land at no
cost to the town of Sisters, Oregon. The land conveyed will be
used to build a sewage treatment facility.
background and need
Sisters, Oregon, has had ongoing concerns about a possible
outbreak of infectious diseases and groundwater contamination
from failed and leaking septic systems. Currently, all of the
homes and businesses in the city limits must use septic
systems. During the summer months, in order to accommodate
tourists who often recreate on the surrounding Federal lands,
the city must place approximately sixty portable toilets
throughout the town.
While the city has put together a financing package of
approximately 7 million dollars to address this problem, this
does not include funds for land acquisition. Additional funds
to acquire the land for the treatment facility and for the
disposition of the treated wastewater are beyond the residents'
ability to pay. Currently, the Forest Service maintains eleven
separate septic systems in the city to serve their existing
administrative buildings and will benefit directly from the
Sisters is literally surrounded by land managed by the
Forest Service. After examining numerous other non-federal
sites in or near the city, it was determined that this parcel
is large enough, and has the proper soil conditions for,
disposing of the treated wastewater. S. 416 calls for the
Secretary of Agriculture to convey between 160 and 240 acres of
land for the facilities at no cost to the town of Sisters. The
legislation also stipulates that, at the option of the United
States, the land would revert to the Forest Service upon
termination of the specified uses.
S. 416 was introduced by Senators Smith and Wyden on
February 11, 1999. A hearing on S. 416 was held before the
Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management on April 28,
1999. At the business meeting on May 19, 1999, the Committee on
Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 416, as amended,
committee recommendations and tabulation of votes
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on May 19, 1999, by a voice vote of a quorum
present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 416, if amended as
During the consideration of S. 416, the Committee adopted
amendments. The amendments served three primary purposes: (1)
to require that the conveyance be completed within 180 days
after the completion of the required environmental analysis and
documents; (2) to clarify the amount of the land conveyed
should be not more than is reasonably necessary for the sewage
treatment facility; and (3) to strike section 3 of the bill.
Section 1 contains findings.
Section 2 (a) directs that the Secretary of Agriculture,
upon completion of documents or analysis required by any
environmental law, to convey to Sisters, Oregon, a parcel of
land that is not more than is reasonably necessary for a sewage
treatment facility and for the disposal of treated effluent.
The committee understands that the environmental analysis and
documentation is almost completed. Subsection (b) describes the
land to be conveyed. Subsection (c) requires the city to
conduct a public process before deciding exactly how the
effluent will be disposed. Subsection (d) states that if the
land conveyed is no longer used for sewage treatment and
disposal, at the option of the Federal Government, the land
reverts to the Federal Government.
cost and budgetary considerations
The following estimate of the cost of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, May 28, 1999.
Hon. Frank H. Murkowski,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 416, a bill to
direct the Secretary of Agriculture to convey to the city of
Sisters, Oregon, a certain parcel of land for use in connection
with a sewage treatment facility.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Victoria
Heid Hall (for federal costs), and Marjorie Miller (for the
impact on state and local governments).
Barry B. Anderson
(for Dan L. Crippen, Director).
congressional budget office cost estimate
S. 416--A bill to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to convey to the
city of Sisters, Oregon, a certain parcel of land for use in
connection with a sewage treatment facility
S. 416 would direct the Forest Service to convey to the
city of Sisters, Oregon, between 160 and 240 acres of federal
land, but not more than is necessary for the city to construct
a sewage treatment facility. The bill provides that the land be
conveyed at no cost to the city other than the cost of
preparing any documents required. According to the Forest
Service, under current law the agency is likely to sell about
240 acres to the city of Sisters at fair market value. Based on
a preliminary appraisal of the land, the city would pay the
Forest Service between $480,000 and $720,000 for the
conveyance. Because S. 416 would provide for the conveyance at
no cost to the city, CBO estimates that enacting the bill would
result in foregone offsetting receipts, and thus an increase in
outlays of roughly $600,000 in fiscal year 2000. Consequently
pay-as-you-go procedures would apply.
S. 416 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. State
and local governments might incur some costs as a result of the
bill's enactment, but these costs would be voluntary. The city
of Sisters, Oregon, would benefit from enactment of this
legislation because it would receive land at a negligible cost
for construction of a sewage treatment facility.
The CBO staff contacts are Victoria Heid Hall (for federal
costs), and Marjorie Miller (for the impact on state and local
governments). This estimate was approved by Robert A. Sunshine,
Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
regulatory impact evaluation
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out S. 416. The bill is not a regulatory measure in
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of S. 416, as ordered reported.
On April 16, 1999, the Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources requested legislative reports from the Department of
Agriculture and the Office of Management and Budget setting
forth Executive agency recommendations on S. 416. These reports
had not been received at the time the report on S. 416 was
filed. When the reports became available, the Chairman will
request that they be printed in the Congressional Record for
the advice of the Senate. The testimony provided by the United
States Forest Service at the Subcommittee hearing follows:
Statement of Jack Craven, Director of Lands, Forest Service, U.S.
Department of Agriculture
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for
the opportunity to be here today to present the
Administration's views concerning S. 416, a bill to convey to
the city of Sisters, Oregon, a certain parcel of land for use
in connection with a sewage treatment facility.
While the Administration supports making federal lands
available in certain circumstances for public purposes, such as
wastewater treatment facilities, the Administration opposes
this bill as it is written. However, the Administration will
work with you to amend this bill to allow the Townsite Act
purchase process currently underway to proceed, allow for the
deposit of the sale receipts under the Sisk Act authority, and
provide an alternative method for accomplishing necessary
watershed improvements on Squaw Creek.
We have three general concerns with S. 416. First,
authority already exists to make land available to the city of
Sisters under the Townsite Act. Second, the bill would direct
the conveyance of National Forest lands to the city of Sisters
without compensation to the United States for the fair market
value of the lands conveyed. Third, we cannot support the
provision in the bill requiring the sale of at least 6 acres of
National Forest land to generate funds for improving the long-
term condition of the watershed of Squaw Creek, a tributary of
the Deschutes River, and for improvements to the Sisters Ranger
District administrative site.
I would like to address each of these points in more
First, statutory authority already exists for conveyance of
land to the city of Sisters, Oregon.
Deschutes National Forest Supervisors have had periodic
discussions with elected officials in Sisters for over 10 years
regarding the potential for a land exchange or conveyance for
the purposes of a wastewater treatment facility. In January,
1999, Sisters initiated the formal process for land acquisition
by submitting an application for 240 acres under the authority
of the Townsite Act. In a letter dated March 10, 1999, Regional
Forester Robert Williams indicated that he would elevate the
priority of this project in order to expedite the request. The
Deschutes National Forest team currently plans to have the
Environmental Assessment completed for public review in mid-
May, with a decision by July. All deed transfer paperwork is
being done on a concurrent track. This conveyance should be
allowed to proceed administratively under the Townsite Act. If
legislation is needed, then we would support an amendment to
direct completion of the Townsite Act process.
Second, S. 416 would convey the property to Sisters at no
cost, other than for preparation of documents required by
environmental law in connection with the conveyance.
Current law requires payment of fair market value for any
public lands exchanged or conveyed to ensure a fair return to
the American taxpayers. The Administration believes the
requirement for fair market value reflects sound principles of
public policy. As stated previously, we support completion of
this sale under the Townsite Act which requires purchase at
fair market value based on the appraised value of the land, and
does not require new legislation, and an amendment to S. 416 to
allow for the deposit of the receipts from the sale into a
special account established under Public Law 90-171 commonly
known as the Sisk Act.
Our third concern with S. 416 is that it provides for the
sale of at least 6 acres of National Forest land to generate
funds for improving the long-term condition of the watershed of
Squaw Creek, a tributary of the Deschutes River.
The Administration does not support the sale of National
Forest System lands as an appropriate mechanism for funding
needed watershed improvements on Squaw Creek. The
Administration, through the Forest Service, would prefer to
work with the city of Sisters and other interested parties to
assist community leaders to prepare and develop a proposal for
funding through programs such as NRCS' Environmental Quality
Incentives Program or the Section 319 Clean Water Act Non-Point
Source Management Program. For example, the Forest Service has
completed a watershed analysis for this watershed, and has the
necessary background information needed to proceed with this
approach. Participation in this grant program does not require
legislation, and we recommend amending this bill to remove the
watershed improvement proposal.
Mr. Chairman, while the Administration supports the general
objective of making Federal lands available for public
purposes, such as wastewater treatment facilities, the
Administration opposes S. 416 as written. However, the
Administration remains open to discussions with the
Subcommittee regarding an amendment that would provide for fair
market return to the American public, allow for the deposit of
the sale receipts under Sisk Act authority, remove the
provision for the sale of land to generate funds for watershed
improvements on Squaw Creek.
This concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer any
questions you and Members of the Subcommittee might have.
changes in existing law
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by the bill S. 416, as ordered