On December 5, 2020, the WSWC, Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), sent a letter to House and Senate leadership expressing strong support for an extension of the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund (RWSF), created by Section 10501 of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (43 U.S.C. 407). The letter emphasized the importance of both authorizing and funding negotiated water rights settlements.
“Unquantified and disputed water right claims by Tribal Nations impact tribes, states, and communities across the West. Negotiated settlements of Indian water rights are a means of ensuring the reliability of water supplies for both tribal and non-tribal communities, through well-defined water rights, and provide the certainty needed to promote economic development and create jobs on and off tribal lands. However, once authorized by Congress, these settlements often languish waiting for federal funding.”
Bills to extend the RWSF have been introduced in both the House and the Senate in the 116th Congress. The letter notes: “The RWSF provides a stable and dependable source of funding for the construction of critical infrastructure authorized by Congress as part of these settlements and sets priorities for spending. The 2009 Act authorizes transfers from the Reclamation Fund to the RWSF for fiscal years 2020 through 2029, and withdrawals from the RWSF for construction of infrastructure authorized by Congress as part of negotiated water rights settlements. A proposed extension would authorize the RWSF to continue receiving transfers from the Reclamation Fund after FY2029.”