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Water compact board draws closer to establishing development applications

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RONAN — The Flathead Water Compact board held a meeting on Jan. 12, and with that came a draft of the much-anticipated application for well drilling  or development of springs.  

Different from the individual domestic allowance application, the presented draft of the 60DF (D) Part A form holds a number of differences for developers when it comes to establishing wells. For instance, it specifies that the maximum flow of a development well is not to exceed 35 gallon-per-minute per well, and the maximum volume is not to exceed 10 acre-feet per year. Additionally, developers will be required to obtain a cumulative water volume measurement device approved by the Office of the Engineer to be installed on each well or developed spring. These will help with verifications of water usage in the future. 

This form is just Part A of a two-part process developers will need to undergo for their new wells and springs. Part B will include information about the construction of and actual use of the well, and the form will not be established until after the draft of the Part A form is approved by the board. Approval by the board will happen after an extended period for public input. Ethan Mace, with the Office of the Engineer, emphasized that the details and impact of the form are important to developers and other interested parties. The draft will be open for public comment until the next board meeting in February. 

The current draft of 60DF Part A can be viewed online at:

In other news:

—  A draft of Form 646F, an application to construct a geothermal heating/cooling exchange well, was put on hold by the board until the next meeting to give the Office of the Engineer time to gather information about the potential impact on surface water that these wells may have as they fluctuate in temperature. With several species on the Flathead Reservation susceptible to the effects of such changes, board members expressed concern about the unknown environmental impact. The matter will be revisited at the February meeting.  

—  Board members also reviewed a first draft of bylaws presented by Mace and legal counsel Hallee Frandsen. The draft was created by reviewing existing bylaws of other boards while incorporating existing specifications from the compact. The board expressed hesitation about one section regarding potential removal of board members in the rare case of misconduct or poor performance, as members are appointed by Tribal government and the governor to keep a balance. An edit they recommended for this section was the removal to the appointing party rather than vote to remove the member themselves. 

The last three pages on the draft document address a section on rules of decorum that are not currently incorporated into the draft, but rather possible additions the board could make should they choose. The board will continue to review the document between meetings and will email Mace and Frandsen their edits to be addressed in the next meeting before a draft is approved. 

All documentation discussed in the meeting can be viewed online at: under the Board Meetings heading and the Jan. 12 dropdown menu. Public comment can be submitted via email at:, by calling 406-201-2532, or mailing - PO Box 27, Ronan, MT 59864. Please note what the comment is regarding when submitting. 

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