"Montana has lost its water rights"
That's the headline of an article over at The Organic Prepper. I think its overall tone is unnecessarily alarmist, but the meat of the matter is certainly cause for concern.
This article covers the appropriation of Montanans’ water rights by the federal government in the name of the CKST (Confederated Kootenai and Salish Tribes). Superficially, the federal government is upholding the rights of the Indian Tribes to claim all surface and subsurface waters of the western one-third of the state of Montana. In reality, the federal government is taking a 170-year-old treaty, expanding its meaning, and using it as a tool to commandeer everyone’s water.
Whether you live in California or New York, the reason this is important should be obvious to you.
Government overreach has become a way of life. The paradigm has shifted, and now, people barely bat an eye when the government steadily removes the rights enumerated under the Constitution. Today, it may not matter to you because this is happening in Montana. Perhaps it will matter when the federal government comes to commandeer your drinking supply, crops, arable farmland, etc.
. . .
The cast of characters in this charade includes the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the DOJ (the Department of Justice), the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs), the IRS, and the Treasury Department. The Water Compact Commission was formed in Montana with deep ties to and directives from the EPA. The Department of the Interior (the “umbrella” organization holding the BIA) will collect the revenues and “manage” them for the tribes. DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) will enforce compliance.
All water sources, private and public, standing or running, wells and aquifers, will be metered, and taxes will be collected.
Frankly, I fail to see why so many federal government departments need to get involved in what is basically a local matter. Yes, there are federal agreements with the tribes concerned; yes, that justifies federal input and coordination; but the facts of daily life "on the ground" are hardly of national import, and could easily be left to local, state and tribal authorities to negotiate for themselves.
If I understand the situation correctly, a rancher whose ancestors settled in Montana in the second half of the 19th century is now finding that the water rights they established, and that he inherited, have been taken away from him by government fiat. He had no say in the matter, and will not be given one in future. As far as the water he needs for his ranch is concerned, he now has to beg for it rather than use it as of right.
Can any readers in Montana shed further light on how this is playing out locally? It sounds like a big deal, but that may just be the bias of the author of the article above. I'd like to get more information.