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Water Policy Committee to Examine CSKT Water Compact Details

Posted Date: 
March 10, 2014
Jason Mohr, Water Policy Interim Committee Staff

The Water Policy Interim Committee will discuss how fish, farmers and others might fare under part of a proposed water rights compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

An agreement between the tribes and the Flathead Joint Board of Control spells out specific amounts of water to be allocated to irrigators, streams, storage reservoirs, and other uses under the proposed compact. The agreement – known as the Water Use Agreement – also lists various improvements to the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project to improve system efficiency. However, as the Flathead Joint Board of Control has subsequently dissolved, the Water Use Agreement has an unclear status. Legal and technical experts with the Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission will discuss this uncertainty, as well as explain important components of the Water Use Agreement and the data modeling used to create it.

The committee will also hear from a Colorado attorney as part of the House Joint Resolution 26 interim study of irrigation ditch easements. Water rights attorney Scott Miller of Aspen, Colo., will discuss how the Colorado courts resolve intractable ditch disputes between landowners and ditch owners. Montana law prohibits encroachment or impairment of a ditch easement without consent from the ditch owner.

The committee meeting begins at 8 a.m. March 18 in Room 172 at the Capitol. Also on the agenda:

  • State geologist John Metesh will discuss the science behind Senate Bill 346, which created Stream Depletion Zones. A stream depletion zone is a way of modeling the influence of potential groundwater wells on existing water rights.
  • Proposed administrative rules for base numeric nutrient standards.

WPIC members are Sens. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls; Bradley Maxon Hamlett, D-Cascade; Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, D-Crow Agency; and Chairman Chas Vincent, R-Libby; and Reps. Pat Connell, R-Hamilton; Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls; Reilly Neill, D-Livingston; and Vice Chairwoman Kathleen Williams, D-Bozeman.

For more information about the meeting, including a complete agenda, visit or contact Jason Mohr, committee staff, at 406-444-1640 or

Jason Mohr | | (406) 444-1640