FINDING A BETTER SOLUTION TO THE CSKT FEDERAL
RESERVED WATER RIGHTS COMPACT:
I do NOT support the current Compact as written and will continue to be a NO vote.
The State of Montana, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), and U.S.
Government are in the process of attempting to secure an agreement which quantifies
the water rights of the CSKT. Any such agreement would have to be ratified by the State
Legislature, the U.S. Congress, and the Tribe before it would be finalized.
Most water rights are determined though the State Water Court and this is how these claims
will be settled if no agreement is made in the 2015 Montana State Legislature.
Although many citizens, Indian and non-tribal alike agree that it would be desirable to have a
tribal compact of some kind, there are many serious questions about the current document
that is nearly 1,200 pages long with supporting documents. If the Compact is approved and
ratified by all parties, this is the final agreement and there can be NO changes made after.
There are major concerns as well since it appears most of Western Montana would be
impacted in some way since this Compact grants the Tribe off reservation water claims
that span a major portion of the State affecting nearly 350,000 citizens. Secondly, there
are major concerns about how the Compact will affect existing water rights, property values,
and crops. Third, a number of questions have risen about a new experimental board
(Unitary Management Ordinance or U.M.O.) that will be administering the water rights of
Article IX, Section 3. Water Rights of the Montana Constitution States:
(1)All existing rights to the use of any waters for any useful or beneficial purpose are hereby
recognized and confirmed.
(2) The use of all water that is now or may hereafter be appropriated for sale, rent, distribution,
or other beneficial use, the right of way over the lands of others for all ditches, drains, flumes,
canals, and aqueducts necessarily used in connection therewith, and the sites for reservoirs
necessary for collecting and storing water shall be held to be a public use.
(3) All surface, underground, flood, and atmospheric waters within the boundaries of
the state are the property of the state for the use of its people and are subject to
appropriation for beneficial uses as provided by law.
(4) The legislature shall provide for the administration, control, and regulation of water rights
and shall establish a system of centralized records, in addition to the present system of local