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Congressman Scott Tipton

Representing the 3rd District of Colorado

Tipton Raises Concerns Over New Forest Service Water Directive

May 12, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) stressed that the Forest Service’s newly proposed Directive on Groundwater Resource Management includes overly broad language that will expand the agency’s regulatory reach over groundwater and jeopardize privately-held water rights. The directive is strikingly similar in function and tone to the recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed rule to redefine waters of the United States to vastly expand that agency’s regulatory scope over surface water.

“It seems like every week we uncover a new attempt by this Administration to encroach on private property rights. This latest instance would drastically expand the Forest Service’s regulatory reach to the point where if any private water rights holder so much as attempted to utilize groundwater to which they are legally entitled under long-held state water law, the Forest Service could insert itself and prevent access to that right. This bears an unsettling resemblance to the recent EPA proposed rule that would allow that agency to regulate virtually every form of surface water within the United States. These rules jeopardize every water user’s ability to freely access their water and maintain their livelihood,” said Tipton. “These backdoor attempts by the federal government to circumvent state law, take control of Western water, and trample private property rights are nefarious, coordinated and will not stand. I will continue to fight these blatant attempts to take and control our water and steadfastly defend private property rights at every turn.”

The Forest Service’s proposed rule, which was released this month, expands the agency’s reach over groundwater, and seeks to establish new bureaucratic hurdles to interfere with private water users’ ability to access their water. View the full Forest Service Directive HERE.

In March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, with bipartisan support, Congressman Scott Tipton’s (R-CO) Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 3189) which would uphold state water law and protect private water rights from uncompensated federal takings.


The Water Rights Protection Act:

  • Prohibits federal land management agencies from implementing a permit condition that requires the transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government in order to receive or renew a permit for the use of land;
  • Prohibits the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture from imposing other conditions that require the transfer of water rights without just compensation;
  • Upholds longstanding federal deference to state water law; and
  • Has no cost to taxpayers.

Read more about the bill HERE.