Governor Steve Bullock today called for swift passage of the Montana Water Rights Protection Act to ratify the Montana and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Water Compact after the bill was heard in the US Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
“I urge the Senate to get this bipartisan and equitable deal across the finish line to provide a path forward for all Montanans to gain certainty for their water rights,” Governor Bullock said. “This legislation avoids expensive litigation and offers significant funds to guarantee water infrastructure in western Montana is modernized to meet the future needs of all users.”
The Compact is the result of more than two decades of negotiations between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the state of Montana, and the United States to resolve the Tribes’ water right claims within Montana. The state has committed $55 million toward rehabilitation of the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project, which serves both tribal and non-tribal irrigators. Governor Bullock signed the CSKT Water Compact into Montana law in 2015.