Interior signs historic water rights agreement with Nevada, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes
As part of President Obama's commitment to empower tribal nations, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell recently signed a historic agreement guaranteeing water rights of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes in Nevada and ensuring water supplies and facilities for their Duck Valley Reservation.
WASHINGTON, DC, March 2, 2015 -- As part of President Obama's commitment to empower tribal nations, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, on behalf of the United States, signed a historic agreement at the Department of the Interior on Friday, Feb. 27, guaranteeing the water rights of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes in Nevada and ensuring water supplies and facilities for their Duck Valley Indian Reservation.
Joining Jewell at the signing ceremony were Shoshone-Paiute Chairman Lindsey Manning and other members of the tribal business council, as well as other state and federal officials. The ceremony is a crucial step towards a fully enforceable and final settlement, which will free up $60 million in funding authorized for the Shoshone-Paiute to develop water resources and rehabilitate the Bureau of Indian Affairs irrigation project serving the Duck Valley Reservation.
“We are proud that [the] agreement helps provide the Shoshone-Paiute with the water supplies and facilities they need in the Duck Valley Reservation," said Jewell. "This agreement is the latest step in fulfilling the Administration's commitment to resolving water rights in a manner that benefits Indian tribes and provides certainty to water users. Rehabilitation of the irrigation system on this rural reservation is particularly important to the livelihood of tribal members who depend on the water for agriculture and livestock pasture and healthy habitat."
With the signing ceremony, the Administration has executed all six Indian water agreements authorized in legislation since President Obama took office in 2009. Jewell's signature provides final federal approval of the Shoshone-Paiute agreement, first authorized as part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, signed into law in March 2009. The agreement specifies the Tribes' rights and how they relate to non-Indian water users on the East Fork of the Owyhee River and provides for tribal water development projects.
The agreement covers water rights relating to the Nevada half of the reservation; Idaho rights were previously settled. In addition to irrigation, other possible uses for the funds include the protection of cultural resources and fish and wildlife resources, tribal community water and sewer facilities, water quality testing, and economic development projects.
The Duck Valley Indian Reservation straddles the Idaho-Nevada border. Its 294,000 acres are almost evenly divided between tribal land within southern Owyhee County, Idaho, and northwestern Elko County, Nev. The East Fork of the Owyhee River traverses the Reservation from the south to the north before joining the Snake River in Southern Idaho.