The Water Policy Interim Committee will discuss the future of administering and enforcing water rights in Montana at its first meeting of 2016.
The WPIC meets Jan. 11-12 in room 172 of the Capitol building. One of the committee's three major studies includes a look at the future of the Water Court. The court, located in Bozeman, is determining all pre-1973 water rights through the adjudication process. The court is projected to finish this work around 2028; the court would have a limited role after that time under existing state law.
The Future of the Water Court study will also examine the water rights permitting and change of water right processes administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and enforcement of water rights by the state's district courts.
During its two-day meeting, the WPIC will also discuss:
- Water marketing and water banking. Officials from the state's first-ever water mitigation bank will explain their operation, as will representatives of what might be a second water bank in the Gallatin Valley.
- Case studies on water availability. The committee will consider 18 suggestions for a focused case study by the committee. The suggestions include a variety of issues, problems, and potential solutions for water availability issues around Montana.
- Assumption of federal section 404 permitting. The committee will hear from policy experts with the Environmental Protection Agency, Oregon Department of State Lands, and the Alaska Division of Water about how Montana might assume this program. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now issues 404 permits, also known as "dredge and fill" permits.
Members of the WPIC include: Chairman Bradley Maxon Hamlett, D-Cascade; Vice-chairman Carl Glimm, R-Kila; Rep. Bob Brown, R-Thompson Falls; Rep. Zach Brown, D-Bozeman; Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls; Sen. Chas Vincent, R-Libby; Sen. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, D-Crow Agency; Rep. Kathleen Williams, D-Bozeman.
For more information on the committee's activities and upcoming meeting, visit the committee website or contact Jason Mohr, committee staff.
Committee website: www.leg.mt.gov/water
Committee staff: email@example.com or 406-444-1640.