Department of Interior, Blackfeet Nation implement 2016 water settlement

Posted at 9:21 AM, Jun 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 14:33:42-04

WASHINGTON- The Department of the Interior and the Blackfeet nation have officially implemented the Water Rights Settlement of 2016.

Blackfeet chairman Harry Barnes and Secretary Ryan Zinke singed the documents at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning.

The settlement was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2016.

Tribal members ratified the compact in a vote last spring.

The compact includes $471 million for water-related projects including new or improved irrigation systems, the development of community water systems and land acquisition.

It also resolves and quantifies tribal water rights. It gives the Blackfeet the rights to three-quarters of a million acre-feet of surface water and nearly all the groundwater on the reservation, as well as some water off the reservation.

A study completed by the U.S. Department of interior projects that the settlement act could create up to 500 short-term jobs and up to 200 long-term jobs.

The compact has been in the works for more than three decades.