Nevada tribe signs water-rights agreement with federal government

WASHINGTON – A Northern Nevada tribe and the federal government on Friday completed an agreement that settles longstanding claims for water along a fork of the Owyhee River.

The agreement ending one of the last tribal water-rights disputes in Nevada was signed by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and by Lindsey Manning, chairman of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation.

“The value of clean water cannot be overestimated,” Manning said at a ceremony held at the Department of Interior. “In the arid West, the adjudication of water rights is critical as overpopulation increases, economics uses increase and natural demands compete with each other.”

A settlement act already passed by Congress grants the tribe $60 million for water projects, including an upgrade to the Bureau of Indian Affairs irrigation system that serves the reservation on the Nevada and Idaho border.

The agreement that resulted from two decades of litigation and negotiations specifies the tribe’s water rights along the east fork of the Owyhee River.

The deal settles the tribe’s claims against the U.S. government that stemmed from the destruction of salmon and steelhead trout runs when federal water projects were built in the 1930s, and from the loss of water rights to the arrival of settlers to the region.

Contact Steve Tetreault at or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC.

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