Tester, Daines Seek Approval of Blackfeet Water Agreement
U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines are asking Congress to approve a water rights settlement with the Blackfeet tribe that’s been in the works for more than three decades.
The Montana senators said in a joint statement Wednesday that it’s time for lawmakers to act on a settlement first brought to Congress in 2010.
The proposed Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act would establish the tribe’s right to water within its northwestern Montana reservation, and would rehabilitate the Four Horns Dam and Blackfeet Irrigation Project.
Legislation introduced by Tester, a Democrat, and Daines, a Republican, to approve the settlement would authorize $420 million in spending on various water projects.
A prior version of the bill introduced two years ago was opposed by the Obama administration in part because of cost concerns.
Negotiations on the agreement began more than 30 years ago. It was approved by the Montana Legislature in 2009.
Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock signed a separate water rights settlement with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes last week. That agreement also will need congressional approval.