Friday, February 26, 2021

CSKT water compact bill becomes law

by Clark Fork Valley Press
| December 30, 2020 12:00 AM

U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester celebrated their bipartisan bill, the “Montana Water Rights Protection Act,” being signed into law by Pres. Donald Trump Sunday.

The bill permanently settles the century long Confederated Salish, Kootenai Tribe water dispute, supports Montana jobs, modernizes rural infrastructure and protects the water rights of all Montanans.

“After years of a lot of effort, our bipartisan bill that settles the century long CSKT water dispute is now law,” Daines said. “This is a huge win for all Montanans. Our bill protects the water rights of all Montanans, saves taxpayer dollars, creates jobs, modernizes rural infrastructure, protects Montana agriculture and prevents costly litigation. I’m very glad I could play a direct role in getting this done, and I thank President Trump for signing our bill into law.”

“Today is a historic day for Montana taxpayers, ranchers, farmers, and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes,” Tester said. “Water is life, and the Compact honors our trust responsibilities, creates jobs, and prevents decades of costly litigation while investing in infrastructure and providing certainty to water users everywhere. I am proud to have led the effort to get this Compact signed into law, and I will continue working with the Tribes and water users to hold the government accountable and ensure it is implemented quickly and effectively.”

“This law is a win for all Montanans. Our farmers, ranchers, the Salish and Kootenai tribes, and all water users across the state will now have the certainty they need,” Congressman Greg Gianforte said. “Thank you President Trump and my colleagues in the Senate for getting this across the finish line.”

In June, in a U.S Senate hearing, the Trump administration expressed support for the bipartisan bill with the Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary Tim Petty discussing the benefits of the bill, including job creation and modernizing infrastructure needs.

Without the efforts of Sens. Daines and Tester, Montana’s agriculture economy would face a $1.3 billion hit. Thousands of Montanans would be forced to litigate their water rights causing a substantial uncertainty for Montana’s farmers and ranchers.