Water Rights Bill Prohibits Federal Takings
Washington--The House of Representatives last week approved Farm Bureau-supported legislation (H.R. 3189) that recognizes states' long-standing authority to confer water rights and retains the position that the federal government will respect those lawfully acquired rights.
"The Water Rights Protection Act does not expand rights for individuals at the expense of any federal agency, nor does it in any way limit or constrain existing rights held by the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management," noted Ryan Yates, American Farm Bureau Federation water rights specialist.
In protecting privately held water rights, prohibiting federal takings and upholding state water law, the bill would prohibit agencies within USDA and the Department of the Interior from imposing conditions through the permit process that would require the transfer of privately held water rights to the federal government in order to receive or renew the federal permit for the use of land. It also would prohibit the secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from requiring water users to acquire rights for the United States rather than for the water users themselves.