Tester Welcomes Deal to Introduce CSKT Water Compact

Water Compact is supported by Tribes, landowners, farmers, ranchers, small businesses, sportsmen, and the Montana Legislature Senator Tester first introduced the Compact in 2016

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today welcomed bipartisan interest in introducing the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Water Compact in the United States Senate, after years of uncertainty for CSKT, landowners, and Montana water users. Tester first introduced the Water Compact in 2016, but this is the first time it would receive bipartisan support in the Senate.

“Today’s deal is long-overdue good news for Tribes, farmers, ranchers, and Montana taxpayers,” said Tester. “I’m glad we’re all now on the same page about the importance of getting this done, but the clock is ticking on our ability to prevent costly litigation and protect our state’s most valuable resource. It’s critical we get the CSKT Compact introduced and moving so we can provide certainty for all water users and boost economic development in Northwest Montana.”

Tester has been a steadfast champion for Tribes and Montana water users. As a former Chairman and long-time member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester originally sponsored the Blackfeet Water Compact in 2010 and guided it to the President’s desk to be signed into law in 2016. He also sponsored the Crow Water Compact, which was signed into law and ratified in 2010.

Before being implemented, Tribal water rights compacts must pass the state legislature and both chambers of Congress, and be approved by the Tribe and Montana water court. In 2015, after a decade of negotiations between CSKT, the State of Montana, and local landowners, the Montana legislature passed the bipartisan CSKT Water Compact.