Officials Nearing Agreement on Water Rights Settlement

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Federal and tribal officials say they are nearing agreement on a half-billion-dollar water rights settlement for Montana's Crow Indians that was held up by a Wyoming lawmaker.

The settlement is one of several pending in Congress to resolve Indian water claims in the West, some of them unresolved since the 1800s.

The Crow are seeking guaranteed rights to large volumes of water for their arid reservation - plus $527 million in government funds for drinking water and irrigation upgrades, industrial projects and other programs.

U.S. Sen. Jon Barrasso of Wyoming has blocked the measure since last year, over concerns it could weaken the state's grip on rivers that flow north into Montana.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester says a tentative deal reached in recent days could let the bill advance. Details still must be worked out.

Wyo Theater
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