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Is Water Court adjudication better than Compact for irrigators?


When Tim Orr accused Compact supporters of “litigation fear” (VJ June 26), I asked him to explain “why water court adjudication would provide a better outcome than the Compact” (VJ July 4).

He did not answer but asked whether I support the Compact because Moiese will get “about 2.91 ac ft” of river diversion water per irrigated Moiese acre, when “Most of the rest of the project is about 1.03 ac ft” (VJ July 18). But his 1.03 ac ft number is suspiciously low – more like a farm delivery number.

The Moiese river diversion rate is based on 20 years of data and significantly overstates the amount of water delivered to Moiese farms because of water loss in the leaky three mile canal that diverts Crow River water to Moiese. That is one reason why, compared to other areas in the project, so many irrigators in Moiese installed irrigation-efficient pivots.

Infrastructure improvements financed by Compact-related money would significantly reduce the amount of water that would need to be diverted from Crow to Moiese irrigators. MT Water Court does not provide such money.

Orr concluded his letter with an odd statement: “Jocko gets 10,000 ac ft when over 200,000 flows yearly down the Jocko River.” But the amount of water available during irrigation season does not depend on the yearly flow but depends on the amount of snow run-off that can be stored in project reservoirs for summer use. Neither the Compact nor the Water Court would finance an increase in water storage for Jocko and other parts of the irrigation project.

Dick Erb

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