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Crow Nation, U.S. sign water rights pact

  |   April 27, 2012 at 3:05 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 27 (UPI) -- The Crow Tribe Apsaalooke Nation, the United States and the state of Montana Friday signed the Crow Tribe-Montana Water Rights Compact in Washington.

In a signing ceremony at the Interior Department, Crow Chairman Cedric Black Eagle, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer resolved "more than three decades of litigation and negotiations, clearing the way to address pressing needs on the Crow Reservation for safe drinking water and the rehabilitation of the dilapidated Crow Irrigation Project," the department said in a statement.

The compact was called a milestone in implementing the Crow Tribal Water Rights Settlement Act of 2010.

It authorizes $460 million for the Bureau of Reclamation to plan, design and construct "a municipal, rural and industrial water system" for the tribe and to rehabilitate and improve the irrigation project, the statement said.

"The Obama administration is proud to be a party to the Crow-Montana Compact. Signing the compact today demonstrates the administration's continued commitment to resolving Indian water rights and providing settlements that truly benefit Indian tribes," Salazar said. "The compact not only ensures delivery of a much-needed safe supply of water for the Crow community, but will also bolster their economic security."

Black Eagle said:

"Today is a significant day for the Crow people. We began negotiating the Crow-Montana Compact over a decade ago and with continued commitment by all of the parties, including the state and the United States, we were able to come together today and sign the compact.

"Water is life. This compact ensures that Crow people will have water and the necessary infrastructure for generations to come. Now the hard work continues to implement the compact and settlement legislation to ensure that Crow people realize these benefits from the settlement."

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