Tester, Daines Lead Charge to Deliver Clean Water Infrastructure to Crow Tribe

Montana Senators to introduce bill to ensure Crow Tribe has tools to deliver clean water to Indian Country

U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines today announced they will introduce the Crow Water Settlement Amendments Act, which makes cost-free adjustments to the Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2009 to ensure the Crow Tribe has the necessary flexibility and time to deliver clean water to its communities and complete critical energy development projects. The bill does this without opening the settlement between the state, the Tribe and water users, altering any existing water rights or increasing costs. 

“Montanans know that access to water is absolutely essential to economic development, health, and security – and these amendments will help ensure the Crow Tribe has the tools and infrastructure they need to deliver clean water to its communities,” said Senator Tester. “The Crow water rights settlement is a made-in-Montana solution, and I’m looking forward to seeing critical infrastructure developed to deliver clean water to folks in Indian Country for years to come.”

“Water is at the heart of the Montana economy. Whether it’s clean drinking water, irrigation, or hydropower, ensuring the Crow Tribe can provide for their communities is critical,” said Senator Daines. “This bill is a simple amendment that ensures the Crow Tribe can implement their exiting state and congressionally approved water settlement to provide water and power to their communities, without affecting current water rights or water users.”

“On behalf of the Crow Nation, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your sponsorship of the Crow Water Rights Settlement Amendments Act of 2024,” said Frank White Clay, Chairman of the Crow Tribe. “The Crow Tribe strongly supports the legislation as it will enhance the Tribe’s ability to implement the water settlement projects including Clean Drinking Water Delivery for our communities and completion of a Hydro power project.”

The Crow Water Settlement Amendments Act will improve implementation of the Crow water rights settlement by:

  • Providing flexibility for water projects: This legislation provides the Tribe more flexibility in developing water infrastructure, allowing the Tribe to use the most up-to-date technology to create water systems that work for the region and are more cost effective without altering existing water rights.
  • Bolstering energy development: The amendment extends the authorization for the Tribe to develop hydropower on the Yellowtail Afterbay Dam until 2030, providing clean energy and an economic boost to the community. 
  • No additional costs or changes to water rights: This legislation will expedite clean water delivery to Tribal communities through efficient and manageable water projects without adding any funding to the original settlement.  This legislation also does not alter or change any existing water rights or water rights settled in the Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2009.

The Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2009, enacted in 2010, settled the Crow Tribe’s water rights and authorized $460 million to design and construct a Municipal, Rural and Industrial (MR&I) water system for the tribe and to rehabilitate and improve the Crow Irrigation Project. Additionally, the legislation provided funding for the Tribe to develop hydropower at the Yellowtail Afterbay Dam.

This bill is also supported by the Big Horn County Board of Commissioners.

Full text can be found HERE.


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