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Flathead Irrigation District works for producers

The Flathead Irrigation District paid the accessed rate of $33.50. It is a legal obligation to the BIA for delivery of irrigation water. That decision was made after irrigator’s comments: pay now or pay later. And the project operator’s statement at the annual meeting, “If you don’t pay you don’t get water.” How well would our irrigators do without water this season? How would our bankers react to a farm/ranch operation without water?

The fact of the matter is irrigators in the Flathead Irrigation District actually saw a $4.50 decrease in their irrigation charges. Our operation and maintenance fees were billed to the irrigators at $29 per acre (same as last year) and our administrative fee was cut from $5 to 50 cents from the previous year. This was possible with reserves that our district had available. This reduction was needed with the prices of our crops and livestock this year.

The Flathead Irrigation District has been fiscally responsible with your irrigation dollars. We have been prudent with irrigator money and regained what was lost from fraud by an employee of the Flathead Joint Board of Control. After an extensive forensic audit, the insurance companies paid the districts $220,000, approximately 80 percent of that went to the Flathead Irrigation District.

The Flathead District has also sent a letter supporting the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ Water Compact on a majority vote of the board; along with this letter, we have asked for support in getting an irrigator-run project back (CME). With this being said, Flathead has started a discussion with CSKT Tribe on an irrigator-run project. Most irrigators would prefer this opportunity again. It was good when we had it and we are committed to getting there again.

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