Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Water rights negotiations steam ahead for 2013 deadline; draft summary available

Questions are asked and addressed at a meeting held at the CSKT Tribal Council chambers last week on the negotiations for a federal reserved water right for water on and off the Flathead Indian Reservation. (Lailani Upham photo) Questions are asked and addressed at a meeting held at the CSKT Tribal Council chambers last week on the negotiations for a federal reserved water right for water on and off the Flathead Indian Reservation. (Lailani Upham photo)

PABLO — In the last few months, the on-going public water rights meetings generated lines at the microphone as speakers tossed out concerns, ideas, criticisms, and occasional support during the public comment, question, and answer session.

Wednesday’s meeting, on October 24 in Council’s chambers, bucked the trend – a possible sign that critics feel they have been heard as the process enters the home stretch before producing a compact ready for the state legislature to consider.

On October 3, negotiating teams announced the latest draft agreement for public consumption and comment. An executive summary soon followed, which is posted on the www.cskt.org web site on the water rights page.

The Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission has completed compacts with all other federal properties in Montana and only the Flathead Indian Reservation remains. CSKT leadership and the State prefer a negotiated settlement, which must be ready for the upcoming 2013 Montana Legislature. Completing a settlement will start the process that will seek the approvals of Tribal Council, Montana Legislature, Montana Water Court and Congress. This compact will end decades of struggles over how water is governed on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Some major sections remain to be sorted out for the negotiating teams to complete the agreement including the 11,000 acre feet of water from the Hungry Horse Reservoir that the state wants for mitigation measure and to meet future needs in the area north of the reservation, and the Flathead Indian Irrigator Project water use agreement.

See water rights draft agreement summary by following this link.

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