Irrigators Plan Appeal To State Supreme Court Over Flathead Water Compact

Aug 15, 2016

Flathead irrigators are appealing to the State Supreme Court in a legal battle to overturn the state’s water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

The compact narrowly passed in Montana’s 2015 legislative session. Shortly after, the Flathead Joint Board of Control challenged the legality of the water rights agreement, contending it needed at least a two-thirds super majority to become law.

About three weeks ago, Lake County District Court Judge James Manley ruled that part of the compact, aiming to protect members of a yet-to-be-created water compact board from being sued, was unconstitutional.

Manley wrote in his order that the partial unconstitutional ruling does not void the entire compact.

And that’s what the Flathead Joint Board of Control is asking the State Supreme Court to reconsider.

The irrigators' lawyer, Bruce Fredrickson, decline to be interviewed on tape, but said he will argue that because a part of the compact was found to be unconstitutional the whole compact should be struck down.

The appeal to the Supreme Court has not officially been submitted, although Fredrickson expects to do so in the coming weeks.