Contrary to claims made by some opponents, the Montana Water Rights Protection Act introduced by Senator Daines and supported by Senator Tester, is not only bipartisan, but has tremendous benefits for water users both in Lake County and across our state. The MWRPA protects water users and well owners in our county by defining the federally reserved water rights of the tribes and preventing expensive legal proceedings in the Montana Water Court.
In fact, without Daines’ solution to protect water rights, water users would have started receiving notices from the Montana Water Court informing them that their water rights were being challenged by the tribes when the stay on the tribes' claims expired on Jan. 10. Thankfully, because of Daines’ legislation, the Water Court renewed the stay of these legal claims, extending the expiration date and saving Montanans from having to deal with the immediate enforcement of the tribes' rights.
Some opponents have also made claims that the agreement expands the reservation and tribal influence, when in reality it does the exact opposite. The MWRPA not only ensures that existing water rights, as well as non-irrigation uses of water, are protected from tribal call but it prevents thousands of Montana farmers, ranchers, and water users from being forced into expensive legal proceedings.
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I would encourage all Montanans to consider the tremendous benefits of the Montana Water Rights Protection Act, and the tremendous risk all water users would face if it is not passed. Instead of criticizing Daines, they should really be thanking him for introducing legislation that will protect the water rights of all Montanans.
Mission Valley Irrigators United