Water Bill Passes House
March 14, 2014
H.R.3189, Water Rights Protection Act, passed the House of Representatives this week. The bill, introduced by Reps. Scott Tipton (Colo.), Mark Amodei (Nev.), Rob Bishop (Utah), Tom McClintock (Calif.) and Jared Polis (Colo.), comes as a means to combat the federal government, by way of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management, from seizing water rights without just compensation.
The Public Lands Council (PLC), of which the American Sheep Industry Association is a member, strongly supported Tipton's language to protect all water-right holders without exclusions to any group. Many ranchers hold private water rights on federal lands, which serve as an integral part of their operations; thus, these water rights keep ranchers in business and rural communities thriving. However, landowners face an unprecedented threat to the future of their water rights on lands managed by the USFS and potentially other federal agencies.
According to PLC, there was no justification to include an amendment that would only protect one type of water use, and it strongly urge all members of the House to vote against any such amendment.