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Congressman Scott Tipton

Representing the 3rd District of Colorado

Tipton’s Water Rights Bill is Front and Center in Natural Resources Committee

May 18, 2017
Press Release


A discussion draft of Congressman Scott Tipton’s (CO-03) Water Rights Protection Act was the focus of a hearing in the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans. Mr. Chris Treese, External Affairs Manager for the Colorado River District, testified in support of Tipton’s bill, and members of the subcommittee had the opportunity to provide input on the draft measure.

In an opening statement before the committee, Tipton said, “Over many decades, federal attempts to manipulate the federal permit, lease and land management process to circumvent long-established state water law and hijack privately-held water rights have sounded the alarm for all non-federal water users that rely on these water rights for their livelihood. The Water Rights Protection Act is commonsense legislation that provides certainty by upholding longstanding federal deference to state water law.” 

In recent decades, directives from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have attempted to require the transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government as a permit condition on National Forest System lands. There is no compensation for the transfer of these privately-held rights, despite the fact that many stakeholders have invested millions of dollars of their own capital in developing them. Tipton’s bill would permanently protect state water law and private property rights from future federal takings.

The Water Rights Protection Act passed the House of Representatives in the 113th and 114th Congresses with bipartisan support.

“Short of legislation to codify long-held state water law and priority-based systems, and to prohibit uncompensated takings, the federal government can continue its attempts to take private water rights or restrict water users from accessing them,” Tipton added. “The Water Rights Protection Act is a permanent solution to this problem, and I appreciate my colleagues’ commitment to ensuring Western water users have the certainty they need to prosper and thrive in the arid West.”

Tipton’s opening remarks during the hearing can be viewed here.

An audio file of Tipton’s opening remarks can be downloaded here