The Water Policy Interim Committee of the Montana Legislature will discuss and visit sites significant to the Gallatin Valley’s water future during their May 21-22 meeting in Bozeman.
The committee plans a field trip during the afternoon of May 21, including stops related to the Farmers Canal irrigation system, surface water measurements, infrastructure management, and agricultural-municipal cooperation. The field trip leaves Bozeman City Hall at 2 p.m. May 21 and is open to the public. A map of field trip stops is posted on the committee website.
Stream gauges will be a topic of focus for WPIC. Flow rate data from the gauges are essential for some water users, property owners, recreationists, and public safety officials. In recent years, the U.S. Geological Survey has decommissioned gauges. State agencies are often involved in keeping the gauges operational. The May 22 discussion will focus on who pays for the gauges and who uses that data.
The committee also will host a panel discussion of the change of water rights process. The committee has focused on the change process, and the May 21 panel discussion may yield suggestions for legislative changes. Members of the panel are: Holly Franz, water rights attorney; Patrick Byorth, water rights attorney; Mack White, agricultural producer; Shiel Anderson, agricultural producer; and Millie Heffner, Water Rights Bureau chief (Department of Natural Resources and Conservation).
Other agenda items include:
- An update on a proposed statewide listening tour related to exempt groundwater wells
- Future priorities for the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology’s Ground Water Investigation Program
- Proposed legislation from the Water Court’s Adjudication Advisory Committee
- A presentation of water issues contained in the Montana Climate Assessment
- An overview of the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s water-related programs in Montana
WPIC is led by Sen. Pat Connell (R-Hamilton), presiding officer, and Rep. Zach Brown (D-Bozeman), vice presiding officer. Other members are Sens. Jill Cohenour (D-East Helena), Jon Sesso (D-Butte), and Jeffrey Welborn (R-Dillon); and, Reps. Bob Brown (R-Thompson Falls), John Fleming (D-St. Ignatius), and Carl Glimm (R-Kila).
WPIC will meet at 10 a.m. on May 21 and at 9 a.m. May 22 at Bozeman City Hall, 121 N. Rouse Ave. The meeting will be neither live-streamed nor broadcast, but an audio recording will be posted after the meeting to the committee’s webpage. For more information on the committee’s activities and upcoming meeting, including a full agenda, please visit the committee’s website or contact Jason Mohr, committee staff.
Committee Website: www.leg.mt.gov/water
Committee Staff: firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-444-1640