HELENA — In a letter submitted to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the members of the State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee (STRIC) voiced their strong support for the ratification of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Water Compact as part of the Montana Water Rights Protection Act (S. 3019) introduced by Senator Steve Daines and co-sponsored by Senator Jon Tester.

The State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee of the Montana State Legislature is a bipartisan committee that acts as a liaison between Montana’s tribal, state, and local governments. The Committee moved to submit their letter in support of S. 3019 by a 7-1 vote, and in doing so, joined the Water Policy Interim Committee in supporting the legislation. The Water Policy Interim Committee submitted their own letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in late July after they took a similar vote.

The letter, which declares the Committee’s support for the protections that S. 3019 would provide for both tribal and non-tribal water users, thanks the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee for their work and for unanimously passing the legislation out of their Committee.

“The CSKT Water Compact would protect both tribal and non-tribal water users in Montana and

prevent decades of unnecessary and extremely expensive litigation,” wrote Senator Jason Small, Chairman of the State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee. “It is our hope that the U.S. Senate will act swiftly and decisively to support this bi-partisan legislation to provide financial and water right certainty to all Montanans.”

The federal legislation, which received broad support from across Montana, recently garnered the support of Trump Administration officials for the over 6,300 jobs it would create, as well as the over $1.3 billion it would save Montana taxpayers, farmers, ranchers, and water users.

“The support of the State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee further displays that this long-awaited agreement truly benefits all Montana water users,” said Farmers and Ranchers for Montana Co-chair, Tom Beck. “The CSKT Water Compact has been supported by the Governor and Attorney General, every major agriculture and water use group in the state, passed by a bi-partisan majority in the Montana State Legislature, and has garnered the support of numerous interim legislative committees. It is clear that Montana finally has a path forward for water right certainty, and that path is S. 3019, the Montana Water Rights Protection Act.”

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