Western Senators Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Private Water Rights
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), along with Senators Jim Risch (R-ID) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) reintroduced legislation to protect privately owned waters from being seized by the federal government.
“We must protect private water rights. Water is the lifeblood of everything we do in Wyoming and the West,” said Barrasso. “Our bill will stop Washington from bullying our ranchers, farmers, tribal members, and other water users. It will make sure unaccountable agency bureaucrats can’t force them to give up their rights. States and local communities have the best knowledge and expertise to manage this critical resource. The Water Rights Protection Act will allow Wyoming to continue successful management by stopping Washington’s power grab.”
“Private water rights and states’ ability to regulate them have been recognized since the West was settled. In Idaho, we’ve been managing water longer than we’ve been a state. Water is ingrained in everything from our industries to Idaho’s constitution. I’m proud to cosponsor the Water Rights Protection Act to protect Idaho’s right to Idaho water for generations to come,” said Risch.
“Idaho has a long-standing and admirable history of effectively managing water rights without encroaching on the private property rights of farmers, ranchers, states and cities,” said Crapo. “The federal government forcing multiple use permit holders to turn over their privately-owned water rights as a condition of permit renewal undermines state water laws and advances intolerable power grabs by the federal government.”
The Water Rights Protection Act of 2023 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 text of the Water Rights Protection Act of 2023 here.