U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the State Water Rights Protection Act, a bill to prevent presidents from unilaterally creating reserved water rights when designating national monuments, as allowed under current law. As the size and scope of national monuments have significantly grown over time, often without the approval of a state and its inhabitants, 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,” said Sen. Lee. “This bill will ensure that states are not denied their existing local water rights when a national monument is designated.”
The State Water Rights Protection Act would amend current law to prevent a president from creating a reserved water right when designating a national monument, though it would not prevent a president from creating a national monument itself. Additionally, it would allow for water rights to be acquired for a national monument through the state system in which the water rights reside.
The full bill text and an online version of this release can be found here.