Whenever in carrying out the provisions of the reclamation law, storage or carrying capacity has been or may be provided in excess of the requirements of the lands to be irrigated under any project, the Secretary of the Interior, preserving a first right to lands and entrymen under the project, is authorized, upon such terms as he may determine to be just and equitable, to contract for the impounding, storage, and carriage of water to an extent not exceeding such excess capacity with irrigation systems operating under section
of this title, and individuals, corporations, associations, and irrigation districts organized for or engaged in furnishing or in distributing water for irrigation. Water so impounded, stored, or carried under any such contract shall be for the purpose of distribution to individual water users by the party with whom the contract is made: Provided, however, That water so impounded, stored, or carried shall not be used otherwise than as prescribed by law as to lands held in private ownership within Government reclamation projects. In fixing the charges under any such contract for impounding, storing, or carrying water for any irrigation system, corporation, association, district, or individual, as herein provided, the Secretary shall take into consideration the cost of construction and maintenance of the reservoir by which such water is to be impounded or stored and the canal by which it is to be carried, and such charges shall be just and equitable as to water users under the Government project. No irrigation system, district, association, corporation, or individual so contracting shall make any charge for the storage, carriage, or delivery of such water in excess of the charge paid to the United States except to such extent as may be reasonably necessary to cover cost of carriage and delivery of such water through their works.