MTPR

Flathead Water Rights Compact

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk:" disagreement over how much money to spend and what to spend it on is at the core of many political disputes at the Montana Legislature.

Both parties agree on the need to improve mental health services, but that's where the agreement ends.

The conflict over state employee pay continues from the last legislative session.

Lake County Democrats and the county’s Republican Women’s group are getting together to learn about the Flathead water compact at the end of the month.

The event happens Thursday January 29th, 7:00 p.m. at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo.

An attorney from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will present on the negotiated water settlement currently before the Montana legislature. An attorney for State of Montana will be on had to answer questions.

Eric Whitney

 Tonight in Helena Montana’s Reserved Water Rights Commission meets, and is expected to approve a huge water rights settlement between the state, the Confederated Salish and Kootnai Tribes and the federal government.

 

Negotiating teams for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the State of Montana, and the United States today released a revised draft of a proposed water right compact.

You can view the draft water compact here.

Rep. Jenny Eck (D) HD79.
Montana Legislature

The six Democrats on the House Rules Committee proposed a dozen amendments to the House rules, mostly designed to give bills backed by Democrats better odds of passage. 

Jenny Eck of Helena says it wasn’t just about protecting the rights of the minority, but about giving all members an equal say.

“What we were fighting was the ability of a small group to block the larger body from voting on issues that are of importance to the entire body."

Negotiating teams for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the State of Montana, and the United States have completed a revised draft of a proposed water right compact.

However, a copy of the draft is not yet publicly available.

A Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation press release says: "For copies of the public review draft of the Revised Compact and associated documents please check the RWRCC website during the week of January 5, 2015"

The Flathead Joint Board of Control, the body that represents most irrigators on the Flathead Reservation, is sharply divided over the proposed water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

At a meeting Tuesday, a majority of the board decided to draft a resolution urging the state legislature to reject the proposal. Vice Chairman Jerry Laskody says most of the commissioners feel the state and the tribe have ignored the concerns of irrigators.

As a proposed water compact involving the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes moves closer to consideration in the Montana Legislature, we’re talking to people on all sides of the proposal.

Today we’ll hear from Mark Blasdel of Kalispell, who is leaving his post as Speaker of the House to take a seat in the state Senate. Blasdel opposed the compact that died in the last legislature, and he says he’ll oppose the latest version as well.

Pipes gushing water.
Public domain.

Today we continue our coverage of the proposed water compact negotiated by the federal government, the state of Montana, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The compact itself is expected to be over a thousand pages long; it’s still being drafted. The road to this point stretches back over 35 years of negotiations. And it’s clear from the reaction to our coverage that people have strong feelings about it.

Montana Public Radio News wants to hear your thoughts and opinions on the Flathead water compact. Do you support the new compact? Why or why not?

Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page. Or email our news department with your thoughts at news@mtpr.org

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