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! ACTION NEEDED ! - SB 19, Define Combined Appropriation for Exempt Wells


Posted Date: 
March 22, 2013
Contact: 
Harold Blattie, Executive Director, Montana Association of Counties

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Senate Bill 19 - Define combined appropriations for exempt wells passed the Senate and has also passed out of House Natural Resources committee on a very close 9-7 vote.  It will likely be scheduled on the House floor for second reading next week.

This bill is important to maintain the status-quo for the use of exempt wells.

Please contact your House members urging their support of SB 19.

Below is testimony for the house committee prepared by MACo Land Use Attorney, Tara DePuy, that explains the importance of SB 19 in more detail:

The Montana Association of Counties rises in support of Senate Bill 19.  It is appropriate that the legislature define what a combined appropriation is in statute, instead of leaving it to be defined through rule making. 

During the Water Policy Interim Committee (WPIC) study of the exempt well issue, WPIC heard loud and clear from its public hearings across the state that currently there is little agreement or evidence that exempt wells affect senior water right holders.  SB 346 addresses a process to bring science into the equation in determining whether exempt wells should be limited in certain areas; however, without also defining in statute the term “combined appropriation,” rule making could define “combined appropriation” in a manner that undermines SB 346 and allows sentiment, not science, to determine when exempt wells should be limited in certain areas. 

The definition of “combined appropriation” in SB 19 retains the status-quo for exempt wells across Montana, in that the definition does not allow more or less exempt wells to be drilled; but the definition of “combined appropriation” in SB 19 will allow the science behind SB 346 to guide the future of exempt wells.

Note - Senate Bill 346 - Revise exempt well laws has passed the Senate on a 50-0 vote and came out of the House Natural Resources Committee on a 16-0 vote.  It will probably also be on the House floor for second reading next week.

Harold Blattie | hblattie@mtcounties.org | 406.449.4360