Missoula Current: Daines: Water act funds Blackfeet water rights settlement, funds boat inspection stations

Legislation introduced in Congress this week would expand the capacity for water storage and include funding for the Blackfeet Tribe water rights settlement, along with other issues identified as Western state priorities, including floodwater protection.

Sens. Steve Daines, chairman of the Western Caucus, and John Barrasso, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the measures are included in America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.

“This is an important first step for Montana families, farmers, ranchers, the Blackfeet Tribe and Western states,” Daines said. “Inclusion of funding for the Blackfeet Tribe water rights settlement and for watercraft inspection stations will create water access stability and control the spread of invasive species that threaten Montana ecosystems.”

Daines said America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 supports the West’s economic competitiveness by increasing water storage and by providing floodwater protectionIt also deepens coastal ports and maintains the navigability of inland waterways across the country. The legislation also repairs aging drinking water, wastewater and irrigation systems.

The water infrastructure legislation was one of several bills Speaker Paul Ryan mentioned in March when he said Congress would pursue an infrastructure overhaul in five or six pieces of legislation, according to The Hill.  Congress renews the water legislation every two years.

“President Trump has made addressing the nation’s aging dams, levees, water systems, and ports a top priority,” Barrasso said. “Projects included in the bill would make a positive impact in Wyoming by increasing water storage, protecting communities from dangerous ice jam floods and by upgrading old water systems.