43 U.S. Code § 542 - Reservation of lien for charges; enforcement of lien; redemption
Every patent and water-right certificate issued under this subchapter shall expressly reserve to the United States a prior lien on the land patented or for which water right is certified, together with all water rights appurtenant or belonging thereto, superior to all other liens, claims, or demands whatsoever for the payment of all sums due or to become due to the United States or its successors in control of the irrigation project in connection with such lands and water rights.
Upon default of payment of any amount so due title to the land shall pass to the United States free of all encumbrance, subject to the right of the defaulting debtor or any mortgagee, lien holder, judgment debtor, or subsequent purchaser to redeem the land within one year after the notice of such default shall have been given by payment of all moneys due, with 8 per centum interest and cost. And the United States, at its option, acting through the Secretary of the Interior, may cause land to be sold at any time after such failure to redeem, and from the proceeds of the sale there shall be paid into the reclamation fund all moneys due, with interest as herein provided, and costs. The balance of the proceeds, if any, shall be the property of the defaulting debtor or his assignee: Provided, That in case of sale after failure to redeem under this section the United States shall be authorized to bid in such land at not more than the amount in default, including interest and costs.