Daines and Gianforte must take immediate action on CSKT Compact

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The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe (CSKT) Water Compact took over a decade to negotiate with water users on and off the CSKT nation.

The CSKT will protect the rights of water users across Montana. It passed the Montana Legislature with bipartisan support and was signed by the governor in 2015. All major ag organizations support the CSKT.

The first letter I sent as President of Montana Farmers Union was to Senator Daines asking him to reintroduce the CSKT Water Compact.

Senator Tester had introduced the CSKT Water Compact to the Senate during the 114th Congress in May of 2016.

Because Senator Daines did not sign on, and Representative Greg Gianforte failed to introduce it in the House during the 114th Congress, it went nowhere and now the process needs to start over.

Because the Senate is now in GOP control our best chance for passage of the CSKT Water Compact is if Senator Daines reintroduces it in the Senate and Rep. Greg Gianforte introduces it in the House.

If Congress does not pass the compact before January 2020 the Montana Water Court will adjudicate over 10,000 water right claims for the CSKT leading to years of litigation for water users.

Senator Daines and Rep. Gianforte have had four years to introduce the compact and are playing political football with our water rights.

The last thing farmers and ranchers need is the risk of losing their water rights.

—Walter Schweitzer is president of Montana Farmers Union

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