WASHINGTON D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — The House of Representatives passed language from Congressman Scott Tipton’s (CO-03) Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 2939), to prevent the federal government from using funds to circumvent state water law or violate private property and water rights. This language was included H.R. 6147, a bill to fund the Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency for FY19.
“Time and time again, we have seen the federal government attempt to circumvent state water law by requiring the transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government as a permit condition for the use of land owned by the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management,” said Tipton. “This poses a massive threat to Colorado’s ski areas as well as the farmers, ranchers and landowners who rely on the availability of water. In passing this legislation today, we are one step closer to preventing this type of federal overreach and gross violation of private property rights from occurring in the future.”
Tipton first introduced the Water Rights Protection Act in the 113th Congress in response to the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) 2011 and 2012 ski area permit clauses, under which the agency was attempting to require the transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government as a permit condition for ski areas operating on federal lands. The Powderhorn Ski Area and Breckenridge Ski Resort had been impacted by the permit clauses.
In 2014, the USFS proposed the Groundwater Resource Management Directive, which gave the federal government jurisdiction over groundwater in a manner that was inconsistent with long-established water law. The USFS has since withdrawn the measure, but it has indicated a desire to issue a revised directive in the future.
Additionally, the Bureau of Land Management has attempted to require farmers and ranchers across the West to turn over their privately-held water rights in order to renew their grazing and agriculture permits.
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Source: Congressman Scott Tipton