March 18, 2021

Senators Introduce Legislation to Protect Private Water Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Today, U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (both R-Idaho) joined U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), in introducing S. 855., the Water Rights Protection Act. This legislation will protect privately-owned waters from being seized by the federal government.

“The federal government has a long history of attempting to seize control of private water rights, undermining state water laws throughout the West, including in Idaho,” said Crapo.  “Forcing multiple use permit holders to turn over their privately-owned water rights to the federal government as a condition of permit renewal is just another way to advance executive power-grabs.  Our legislation will protect the private property rights of farmers, ranchers, states, cities and local conservation efforts from being trampled on by the federal government.”

“In Idaho, we’ve been managing water longer than we’ve been a state,” said Risch. “It’s ingrained in everything from our industries to Idaho’s constitution. Private water rights and states’ ability to regulate them have been recognized since the West was settled. I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation to protect Idaho’s right to Idaho water.”

“The Water Rights Protection Act will stop Washington power grabs of water rights in Wyoming and the West,” said Barrasso. “Washington has routinely attempted to extort Americans’ water rights through implementing burdensome regulations and excessive red tape. Ranchers, farmers, tribal members, and other water users’ livelihoods are being threatened. This bill will put a stop to this abuse of power and will help ensure an abundant supply of clean water for future generations.”

The Water Rights Protection Act will:

  • Forbid the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture from mandating water users transfer water rights to the United States or purchase water rights in the name of the United States as a condition of any permit, lease, or other use agreement;
  • Prevent unlawful seizures of groundwater; and
  • Recognize state water law and require coordination with states. 

Read the section-by-section of the Water Rights Protection Act here.

Read the text of the Water Rights Protection Act here.

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