1989 Scorecard Vote
Since the July 1988 Solicitor of Interior's Opinion, it has been necessary to include language in wilderness legislation which expressly reserves water rights in order to assure that designated wilderness areas have sufficient water to fulfill their wilderness purposes. In the absence of an express reservation of water rights, there is a substantial risk that the courts will conclude that Congress did not intend to provide federal water rights for the wilderness area named. The risk of arid, lifeless, wilderness areas is too great to permit a wilderness bill to be passed without an express reservation of water rights.
Federal water rights reserved by wilderness bills do not adversely affect established rights holders. Because the water rights in wilderness will not be used for consumptive purposes, water will continue to flow through and out of wilderness areas, available for appropriation and beneficial use by others.
Rep. Vucanovich (R-NV) offered an amendment that would have denied wilderness areas in Nevada a federal reserved water right. The House rejected the Vucanovich amendment with a vote of 118-285 on November 17, 1989. No is the pro-environment vote.