Letter: Failure of tribal water compact leaves state in bad place

Letter writer supports a water rights compact for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Montana:
The 18th and final compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes is on the verge of failure. The compact, if ratified, would have done its job. Off the reservation, the state and tribe had negotiated rights, including co-ownership of some with Fish, Wildlife and Parks that protected existing users and would lead to no changing of water management off the reservation. On the reservation, irrigators would have been given the water they needed, and all wells and water not included in the irrigation project would have been adjudicated through the state process. All parties were protected.

Without the compact, the tribes will assert their off-reservation rights to in-stream flows in Western Montana, and possibly east of the Continental Divide as well. On the reservation, there are more than 700 wells in legal limbo with no right; all other wells and water rights will be adjudicated through the state but however they are decreed in the adjudication, they will be unprotected from the tribes’ 1855 Hellgate priority date and their time immemorial Stevens Treaty right.

Get the Story:
Susan Lake: Without water compact, irrigators unprotected (The Ronan Valley Journal 4/10)

Related Stories:
Montana tribe weighs next move in water compact dispute (4/4)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes push water compact (03/20)

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