Summary: S.1607 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (08/07/1992)

Northern Cheyenne Indian Reserved Water Rights Settlement Act of 1992 - Ratifies the Water Rights Compact entered into on June 11, 1991, by the Northern Cheyenne Tribe (Tribe) and Montana.

Directs the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to administer and enforce the Tribal water right until adoption and approval of a Tribal water code.

Authorizes the Tribe or its authorized representatives, under specified conditions and subject to the Secretary's approval, to enter into a service contract, lease, exchange, or other agreement providing for the delivery, use, or transfer of the water right confirmed to it in the Compact.

Establishes in the Treasury the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reserved Water Rights Settlement Trust Fund (Fund). Directs the Tribe to loan $11,500,000 from the Fund to Montana (subject to specified Project contributions by Montana) for the Tongue River Dam Project (Project). Authorizes appropriations for: (1) tribal funds; and (2) the Project.

States that it is the intent of the Congress that nothing in this Act shall: (1) alter the trust responsibility of the United States to the Tribe; or (2) prohibit it from seeking additional authorization or appropriation of funds for Tribal programs and purposes.

Directs the Secretary to identify and develop features of the Project that provide for the enhancement of fish and wildlife habitats. Authorizes Fund appropriations for: (1) fish and wildlife enhancement; (2) environmental compliance; and (3) operations.

Directs the Secretary to allocate, subject to any prior reserved water rights, specified acre-feet per year of stored water in Big Horn Reservoir, Yellowtail Unit, Lower Bighorn Division, Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program, Montana, for use or disposition by the Tribe.

Declares that the Tribe shall not be required to make payments to the United States for the portion of the tribal water right stored in Yellowtail Reservoir unless it uses or sells the water. Specifies the schedule of such payments.

Directs the Tribe to set rates for its use or sale of stored water, and to retain all revenues from such use or sale.

Retains in the United States the right to use any and all water stored in the Big Horn Reservoir for hydropower generation.

Requires the Secretary to enter into an agreement with the Tribe providing for: (1) the Tribe's use or sale of water stored in the Big Horn Reservoir, under specified conditions; and (2) the collection and disposition of revenues in connection with water stored in it that is made available to the Tribe.

Establishes: (1) a ten-year moratorium on tribal water marketing unless the Tribe and the Crow Tribe agree otherwise; and (2) limitations on water marketing by the Secretary.

Directs the Secretary to enter into a cooperative agreement with Montana for planning, design, and construction of the Tongue River Dam Project. Retains ownership of such dam in Montana.

Expresses the intent of the Congress that nothing in this Act shall subject to the Reclamation Reform Act of 1982 any holders of State water contracts from the Tongue River Reservoir who do not have a contract for Federal reclamation storage.

Directs the Bureau of Land Management to transfer specified Federal lands in Montana to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in trust for the Tribe. States that this transfer shall not be construed as creating a Federal reserve water right.

Designates as lead agency: (1) the Bureau of Reclamation with respect to the Tongue River Dam Project and uses of the Tribe's Big Horn Reservoir storage allocation; and (2) the Bureau of Indian Affairs with regard to environmental compliance.

States that the Congress finds that the allocation of water resources to the Tribe under this Act is uniquely suited to the geographic, social, and economic characteristics of the situation, and shall not be construed as a precedent for other Indian water right claims.