Water Policy Group Aims to Improve Water Rights Accuracy - news.mt.gov

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Water Policy Group Aims to Improve Water Rights Accuracy

Friday, September 18, 2020/Categories: Legislative Branch/Tags:

A special water policy working group meets in late September to finalize legislation to tackle problems with the water right ownership update process. The Geocodes Working Group will meet at 9 a.m. Sept. 30.

The working group, which includes members of the Water Policy Interim Committee, has been trying to solve certain issues, such as inaccurate water right information and processing delays. The bill draft proposes to:

  • Limit the use of geocodes by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC)
  • Require deeds or other conveyance documents for certain ownership updates
  • Set a deadline for DNRC to process ownership updates
  • Allow the DNRC to set rules requiring "correct and complete" ownership update forms
  • Limit when the DNRC may change a water rights record
  • Require the DNRC to transfer a water right without the ownership update fee in certain circumstances
  • Increase the penalty for failure to comply with ownership update requirements and provide for recovery of collections costs and fees by the DNRC.

The meeting is accessible to the public. The meeting will be streamed live on www.leg.mt.gov and broadcast on the Montana Public Affairs Network (MPAN). An archived recording of the meeting will also be made immediately available on www.leg.mt.gov.

To participate, email jasonmohr@mt.gov with your name and a request, and you will be sent a calendar invite with instructions for joining and participating in the meeting by 5 p.m. the day before the call. Written comments may be emailed to staff and forwarded to the committee. Additional information on joining these meetings will be provided on the committee website, www.leg.mt.gov/water, and on the committee agenda.

The WPIC is led by Rep. Zach Brown, D-Bozeman, chairman, and Sen. Jeffrey Welborn, R-Dillon, vice-chairman. Other members of the committee are: Sen. Jill Cohenour (D-E. Helena), Sen. Bruce “Butch” Gillespie (R-Ethridge), Sen. Jon Sesso (D-Butte), Rep. Bob Brown (R-Thompson Falls), Rep. Carl Glimm (R-Kila), Rep. Bradley Maxon Hamlett (D-Cascade), Rep. Shane Morigeau (D-Missoula), and Rep. Walt Sales (R-Manhattan).

Members of the Geocodes Working Group include all committee members and Krista Lee Evans, Association of Gallatin Area Irrigator and Senior Water Rights Coalition; James Ferch, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation; Bill Gowen, Jr., Montana Land Title Association; Evan Hammer, Natural Resources Information Service; Kory Hofland, Department of Revenue; Hon. Russ McElyea, Montana Water Court; Regina Plettenberg, Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders; Tara DePuy, Montana Association of Counties; and Sam Sill, Montana Association of Realtors. 

For more information on the committee's or working group's activities and meetings, please visit the committee’s website or contact Jason Mohr, committee staff.

Committee Website:  leg.mt.gov/water
Committee Staff:  jasonmohr@mt.gov or 406-444-1640

Committee mailing address:

Water Policy Interim Committee
Capitol Building, room 171D
P.O. Box 201704
Helena, MT  59620-1704





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