U.S. SENATE – After years of negotiations, U.S. Senator Steve Daines today announced that he has reached an agreement with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) on a new framework for a permanent water settlement. Daines will introduce the Montana Water Rights Protection Act which permanently eliminates 97% of all CSKT’s water rights claims across Montana, saves taxpayers over $400 million and protects the water rights of all Montanans.

 

“After years of negotiations and hard work, I’m pleased to announce we have reached a new agreement that permanently settles a century old water dispute in Montana and protects the water rights of all Montanans,” Daines said. “The ‘Montana Water Rights Protection Act’ will permanently eliminate almost all of CSKT’s water claim rights across Montana with prejudice, save taxpayers over $400 million, and give all water users across Montana protection and certainty.”

 

The elimination of 97% of all of CSKT’s water rights claims is with prejudice, meaning they are permanently relinquished.

 

Last week, the Trump Administration expressed support for a settlement that would avoid litigation while last month, farmers traveled to D.C. urging for ratification of the compact as well.

 

The Montana Water Rights Protection Act protects Montanans’ due process by giving them access to state courts over water disputes between tribal and non-tribal members. It also affirms Montanans’ Constitutional protection that the water of the State of Montana belongs to all the people for their common benefit (Article IX, Section 3). It will prevent years of costly litigation for Montana water users, and provide much needed certainty for all parties involved.

 

Since coming to Congress, Daines has been actively engaged with members of the CSKT, Montana State Legislators, irrigators, and other stakeholders in reaching an agreement.

 

Key Facts of the Montana Water Rights Protection Act:

  • Protects water rights of all Montanans across the state
  • Permanently relinquishes 97% of all CSKT’s water claim rights with prejudice across Montana
    • Requires further 2.7% of remaining claims to be co-owned by the state of Montana and the remaining .3% will be limited to protecting fishing habitat by maintaining in stream flows and protecting outdoor economy
  • Saves taxpayers over $400 million vs. alternative proposals
  • Prohibits the sale of water out of the State of Montana
  • Provides critical resources to upgrade and improve water infrastructure
  • Conserves critical fish habitat across NW Montana

 

Key Differences from Alternative Proposals:

  • Reduces settlement costs by over $400 million vs. alternative proposals
  • Agreement by CSKT to permanently relinquish 97% of all water rights claims with prejudice across Montana
    • Requires further 2.7% of remaining claims to be co-owned by the state of Montana and the remaining .3% will be limited to protecting fishing habitat by maintaining in stream flows and protecting outdoor economy
  • Protect Montanans’ due process by giving them access to state courts over water disputes between tribal and non-tribal members
  • Agreement by CKST of language that affirms Montanans’ Constitutional protection that the water of the State of Montana belongs to all the people for their common benefit

 

More Details:

  • Provides CSKT with $1.9 billion to settle damages and rehabilitate the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project (FIIP)
  • Provides $10 million in road infrastructure funds to Lake and Sanders Counties Requires the Unitary Management Board to cross-file water records with Montana DNRC and requires all meetings and proceedings open to the public

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MT Senator Steve Daines

Northern Ag Network

6 thoughts on “Daines Proposes New Framework to Protect Water Rights for All Montanans

  1. The water compact is great for the irrigators of CSKT reservation for the money that they will receive to rebuild their systems that has not seen maintenance for decades. To the tribe more money than the could have dreamed for, $300,000 plus per member,free power generation and no taxation. To our friends and neighbors outside the Upper Clark Fork drainage free sailing, if you need help with any livelyhood issues area specific, ie. sage grouse, prairie dog or prairie reserve, I’m here to help their cause. To those within the Upper Clark Fork the great privilege of dealing with MT FWP and CSKT on in stream flows and unknown issues to arise.

    • How does any tribal member get those said false advertisements of promises? False propaganda, the irrigation project and money is going to BIA, and other non-tribal interest…but no tribal member is receiving any of those said payouts or benefits. This is actually another injustice against the tribes…and our families don’t need you spreading false claims we get these things, your making us targets of predators that will think we have money like this, and mistreatment due to false beliefs that we aren’t paying all the same bills…Indians do not get free electricity or water or any of this?!? This is a taking of our rights and a violation of decades of agreements.

  2. Like all things said by those claiming to have negotiated the CSKT Compact and are thus supporters of said Compact, there is nothing available explaining or actually stating what is in this new agreement. Do we have to wait until this thing is law to find out what is actually in it. Seems like a rerun of the debacle in Helena in 2015. God give us strength, please.

  3. This whole water thing is a slap in the face to all Americans. They are just putting a different candy wrapper on the compact. It simply gives power to the tribe and pads the pockets of the have’s and won’t benefit the have nots. Meanwhile all tax paying citizens get shafted.

  4. If you are a citizen of the state of Montana, you need to wake up and realize what we are giving up. If you believe any of the B.S. about the CSKT or any replacement or rewritten compact other than The People’s Compact, you are being completely fooled. We need to go to the voting booth and vote out all of those politicians who have chosen fortune over the rights of Montanans to have their decreed water rights and privileges that have constitutionally belonged to us for over 100 years. Please stop following a few renegade sheep that are leading us over a cliff to doom.

  5. Why is it acceptable that the proponents are allowed to publish the same lie posted by the same paid people in all media over every day but the truth is only printable once and generally disappears almost immediately?

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