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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Flathead Water Compact On Monday's Legislative Agenda

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio

Monday, the Montana legislature will hear the bill to pass the Salish-Kootenai water compact, essentially mapping out water rights for the Flathead reservation and surrounding area. The bill’s sponsor is Republican Senator Chas Vincent of Libby, who was the compact’s opposition last session. He says, even amid death threats, he believes this year’s compact is better and absolutely necessary to ensure Montana keeps it’s water.

“Without the compact we’re not going to be able to have security in current and future water uses in Northwest Montana.”

Opponents fear losing their water and water rights. Vincent says those who believe they’re losing something through the compact can take it to court, though the compact assures all historic water amounts are available.

Vincent says if it doesn’t pass, those opponents head to court anyway, along with thousands more required to establish their right.

“If you want to adjudicate, go right ahead but don’t make everybody else adjudicate their claims as well in these basins and cost the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. We’re talking $70 million just for the water court, alone.

Vincent adds anyone with concerns should come to the bill's hearing Monday at 8:00 a.m.