REP. MIKE THOMPSON SECURES BIPARTISAN COMMITMENT TO ADDRESS BOR PROBLEMS AT LAKE BERRYESSA
Members Agree to Work to Improve BOR Management Problems Nationwide
Last night, on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1), explained the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) shortcomings at Lake Berryessa and secured a commitment from Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Ranking Member Peter Visclosky (D-IN) of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development to address BOR’s management problems at Lake Berryessa and at other sites around the country.
Frelinghuysen and Visclosky serve as the top two representatives on the House subcommittee that oversees all funding for BOR activities.
The agreement was secured during a colloquy on the House floor during consideration of H.R. 5325, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013. A colloquy occurs when Members of Congress identify and discuss a problem, state an agreement to fix that problem, and then place that agreement in the Congressional Record.
Please find a copy of the verbal agreement for the House record below.
MAY 31, 2012 – HOUSE CONGRESSIONAL RECORD
Mr. THOMPSON: I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I rise for the purpose of entering into a colloquy.
I also want to thank the chairman and his staff, the ranking member and his staff for the help that they’ve provided on this very important issue.
Mr. Chairman, and Members, the Bureau of Reclamation manages Lake Berryessa in my district. They manage it for the purposes of recreational access, and they ensure that the facilities are safe and accessible to local residents and visitors. As part of this, they award concessions to third-party bidders for resort operations.
Since the Bureau of Reclamation began the most recent bidding process in 2007, their performance has been disappointing, at best. The concession contract was finally awarded in January 2010, and the third-party contractor has not met the terms of that agreement.
The BOR is the responsible agency for concession bidding, and they conducted an inefficient process, provided lax oversight, and refused to take action in a timely manner, despite constant requests from me and local government officials. Now, BOR is entering into mediation, which means even more time to dispute the concessionaire’s shortcomings and provide yet another second chance.
Mr. Chairman and Members, enough is enough. Reassurances and placations from the Board of Reclamation that they’re fixing the problem are no longer enough. We need the matter resolved.
The residents of Lake Berryessa and the tourists who visit the area deserve to have this situation fixed. Recreational access to the lake has been restricted, tourism is down, and the local economy has taken a hit. The summer season officially began last weekend, and there’s no solution in sight to these problems. I expect the Bureau of Reclamation to take immediate action to right these wrongs and take steps to prevent a similar nightmare from happening in my district or any of your districts.
I trust that the chairman and the ranking member share my concerns of the mismanagement of Lake Berryessa by the Bureau of Reclamation and ask that you, Mr. Chairman, and the ranking member work with me to find a way to correct BOR’s previous errors and amend the concession bidding process to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN: Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman, Mr. THOMPSON, for bringing this issue to our committee’s attention. We take seriously our obligation of ensuring that Reclamation is efficiently using its appropriated funds to maximize the taxpayer return on investment, and I would be happy to work with the gentleman to continue congressional oversight of the actions at Lake Berryessa specifically.
Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I would also be happy to work with the gentleman from California to ensure that Reclamation is executing its mission in the best interests of the taxpayer. I expect the Bureau of Reclamation to take immediate actions to right these wrongs and to take steps to prevent a similar situation in the future.
Mr. THOMPSON: Mr. Chairman, I thank the chairman and the ranking member for their commitment to work with me on this. It’s a serious problem. It’s hurting people in my district and the surrounding area. I want it stopped, and I don’t want to see any of you have to suffer through this process again.
Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I would only add that I hope to avoid any further confusion in addressing this issue. And I do appreciate the gentleman’s very serious concern here.
Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California’s 1st Congressional District, which includes the Counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and Yolo. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and sits on the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.
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