Tester Tears Down Barriers to Funding for Blackfeet Water Compact

Senator Helps Pass Legislation Allowing Tribe to Access $422 Million in Water Compact Funding

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester passed legislation that will allow the Blackfeet Nation to invest in water infrastructure for Native American families and businesses.

Tester today helped pass legislation to allow the Blackfeet Tribe to access up to 50 percent of the funding for the Blackfeet Water Compact. The $422 million total for the settlement wasn’t scheduled to be distributed until 2025.

“The Blackfeet people have waited long enough for these critical water resources,” Tester said. “These funds will allow the tribe to build new water infrastructure, create good-paying jobs, and increase reliable access to clean water.”

Tester helped pass the Blackfeet Water Compact into law in 2016 and attended the historic water compact signing ceremony with the tribe in June.

“Water is life,” Tester added. “I will continue to hold the federal government accountable to Blackfeet families until every dollar of this compact is paid in full.”

The Blackfeet Water Compact will:
• Establish the Tribe’s water rights in all six drainages within the reservation.
• Rehabilitate the aging Four Horns Dam and Blackfeet Irrigation Project.
• Give the Blackfeet Tribe the ability to use, lease, contract, or exchange water on tribal land.
• Develop Reservation water resources and promote economic development.

Tester used his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure $10 million for the Blackfeet Water Compact in a bipartisan government funding bill in March.

Tester also secured an additional $10 million for the Blackfeet Water Compact this year in the 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.