Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes push water compact

This map shows the areas affected by the water rights of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana. Image from Montana Water Stewards

Lawmakers in Montana will once again consider a water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

The 1855 Treaty of Hellgate promises water on and off the Flathead Reservation for the tribe. The compact quantifies the tribe's rights and calls for $55 million in improvement projects.

The deal, however, has been controversial. Non-Indians on the reservation, aided by sympathetic lawmakers, prevented passage of the compact in 2013, arguing they would be giving up too much to the tribe.

The tribe and its supporters, however, warn that going through the court system will ending up costing more money and more time. The Montana Reserved Water Rights Commission voted unanimously on Monday to support the agreement.

“This is just the first step in a fairly lengthy process in getting one of these projects to finality," Chris Tweeten, the chairman of the commission, told The Missoulian.

If it's approved by the state, Congress would need to ratify the compact.

Get the Story:
CSKT Water Compact sent to Legislature (The Helena Independent Record 1/14)
Water compact finalized, public speaks out (The Ronan Valley Journal 1/14)
Commission approves Flathead water rights deal (KPAX 1/13)
Water Compact Passes, Moves To Legislature (ABC 1/13)

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Opinion: Ratify water compact with Salish and Kootenai Tribes (1/12)
County's letter on CSKT water compact talks stirs controversy (10/29)
Opinion: Support water compact for Salish and Kootenai Tribes (3/7)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes trapped in water war (4/22)

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