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OPINION: CSKT Negotiated Water Rights Compact – Good for Montana Agriculture

Monday, December 17, 2018/Categories: Popular Posts, General News, Today's Top 5, Opinions, Montana Legislature

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OPINION: CSKT Negotiated Water Rights Compact – Good for Montana Agriculture

 

By Mike Murphy, John Youngberg, and Jay Bodner

The success of Montana’s agriculture industry is dependent upon water and water right certainty. It is easily the single most important resource for people across Montana, which is why ratification of the negotiated Montana CSKT Water Compact is critical.


Contrary to what compact opponents are saying the negotiated CSKT Compact provides water right certainty, protects Montana’s water users, and ensures a reliable source of water. When the Flathead Reservation was established water rights were reserved through a federal treaty. The federally reserved water rights of the Tribe must, by law, be defined and quantified either through a negotiated agreement or through litigation in the Montana Water Court. The negotiated CSKT Water Compact defines the water rights and settles the legal claims of the CSKT, preventing long term costly litigation and uncertainty.


Recently, Compact opponents have proposed to replace the long-negotiated CSKT Water Compact that was developed through extensive public participation with a quickly crafted proposal that was developed without general public participation.  Their proposal ignores the fact that a negotiated settlement requires acceptance and approval by all parties.


The CSKT Water Compact, which was passed with bi-partisan support in the Montana State Legislature, after many years of negotiation, is currently awaiting Congressional ratification. The compact provides protection for all existing water rights, prevents decades of expensive litigation, and provides certainty to water users across our state. Comparatively, the proposal recently developed by those who oppose the CSKT Compact was constructed without Tribal, State, and Federal parties at the table and without general public comment. If this proposal were to upend the existing negotiated agreement it would most certainly open the flood gates to possibly decades of expensive litigation—putting the water rights of farmers, ranchers, and water users across our state, at risk.


We respectfully encourage our Congressional delegation to carefully consider the extensive benefits that implementing the long-negotiated Montana CSKT Water Compact will have for Montana’s agriculture industry and move Compact ratification forward, while soundly rejecting the proposal from Compact opponents that was quickly developed without Tribal, State, Federal, or general public participation.


Mike Murphy is the Executive Director of the Montana Water Resources Association. John Youngberg is the Executive Director of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation. Jay Bodner is the Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

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1 comments on article "OPINION: CSKT Negotiated Water Rights Compact – Good for Montana Agriculture"

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Walter Morris

12/17/2018 12:10 PM

When are wee going to hear something in the media that is coming from the one side that hasn't ever been heard, those that have a dog in the fight. How does those that are being paid to destroy our way of life by charging those that pay their wages to lie to support the only side that has spoken since the inception of this plan to turn over all of Montana's private to the Federal Government and create a one world order. It is time for the citizens to stand up and silence the few that are wiling to destroy every private right that our forefathers have fought for. No, no the CSKT wasn't a negotiated agrement and SB 262 didn't pass in 2115. Let's throw out the liar's and get on with making this country great again. No, the executive leaders don't control all of the farm orgianizations, we just allow them to.

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