Opinion

Opinion: Approve water compact for Salish and Kootenai Tribes





Farmers call on Montana lawmakers to approve a water compact for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes:
The Reserved Water Rights Commission negotiated a compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to protect water users in the West half of Montana. If there is no negotiated settlement the tribes will be required to file their claims with the water court before July l, 2015.

These claims include current and future uses of water on the reservation where we live and in stream flows in their aboriginal fishing territories which stretch across half of Montana. They are required like all other water users to file on all water they believe they have a right to.

The CSKT compact protects private property rights, private land values, reservation irrigators, protects irrigators on the Blackfoot and Upper Clark Fork from a state claim that will go to FWP if there is no compact and provides a new water source for western Montana.

In 1972 the new constitution required that all water in Montana be quantified and centrally documented to protect Montana’s water for Montanans. In 1979 the legislature created the Reserved Water Rights Commission to deal with all water claims with the federal government and the tribes.

They did this because it became apparent if the rights were not negotiated, decades of litigation would come and the state would not be able to quantify and protect the state’s water in a timely fashion. They have negotiated 18 compacts across the state.

Get the Story:
Jack and Susan Lake: Hoping for CSKT Compact passage in State Legislature (The Great Falls Prairie Star 3/21)

Also Today:
Non-tribal Flathead irrigation project workers laid off by BIA (The Missoulian 3/21)

Related Stories:
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes sue over water rights (3/14)
Opinion: Support water compact for Salish and Kootenai Tribes (03/07)