Water compact negotiations need public input
I hope everyone is enjoying the cooler fall weather and maybe even anticipating some moisture in some form to alleviate the smoke and dry fields. The people assigned to the huge task of creating and negotiating a water compact agreement have been busy. Many miles have been traveled and a multitude of voices have been heard.
There is a new draft version of a proposed compact agreement between the CSKT, the State of Montana and the federal government. It is only a proposal and is being put out so that the public can start dissecting the many parts of this compact. There are still ongoing negotiations on several issues. These will be included when, and if, there is agreement by all parties.
The biggest of these issues is an agreement between the United States, the CSKT and the Flathead Joint Board of Control. This is regarding the issue of irrigation water within the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project. Irrigators have brought forth some important and very valid issues that need to be settled. There will be no compact without the completion of a water use agreement between these parties.
The proposal of a unitary management board is an important piece of the puzzle and is a very lengthy document. The compact commission wants to get this out to the public so that it can be scrutinized and commented on. This information is located on the Reserved Water Right Compact Commission website and also the CSKT website.
There will be a public meeting to explain the proposed compact draft on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Ronan Community Center at 7 p.m. Commission members and staff, along with members from the tribal team, will be available for a presentation and to answer questions. There will be a negotiation session on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 9 a.m. at the tribal chambers in Pablo. The public is encouraged to attend.
This is a very important issue that affects all of us in the valley. I hope you will take the time to access the information on the available websites and make yourself aware of the particulars, ask questions, come to a meeting. The public part of this process is provided to give you the opportunity to express your concerns. As always, please give me a call if you have any questions.