WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R) Utah introduced the State Water Rights Protection Act Monday.
The purpose of the bill is to prevent presidents from unilaterally creating reserved water rights when designating national monuments, as allowed under current law.
Officials say due to the fact that the size and scope of national monuments have grown significantly over time, often without the approval of a state and its residents, these designations can impact, and in some cases terminate privately held water rights.
“States with vast swaths of federal land at risk of monument designation need a reliable water supply for their residents, especially in the arid West,” says Sen. Lee. “This bill will ensure that states are not denied their existing local water rights when a national monument is designated.”
In a news release, officials say the State Water Rights Protection Act would amend the current law but would not prevent a president from creating a national monument itself.
Officials added that it would allow for water rights to be acquired for a national monument through the state system in which the water rights reside.