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Water rights compact forwarded to legislature

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HELENA — Whether or not a proposed water compact for the Flathead Reservation will be finalized is now up to the state legislature following a Tuesday night meeting of the Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission at the state capitol. The nine-member water commission approved the compact, which is a joint effort of Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the State of Montana and the federal government, and sent it on its way to the Montana Legislature.

Ratification is contingent on approval of a Flathead Indian Irrigation Project water use agreement by the CSKT and the Flathead Joint Board of Control.

According to a press release from MRWRCC Attorney Jay Weiner, the compact quantifies the tribes’ water right on and off the reservation and settles the tribes’ water claims for all time. The compact provides protections for existing water users and ensures that water is available for future development. 

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