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Water use group sues FJBC

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On Dec. 12, attorneys for the Western Montana Water Users Association, LLC, filed a complaint in Lake and Sanders County District Court alleging violations of Montana law by the Flathead Joint Board of Control. 

District Judge C.B. McNeil issued a writ of mandate ordering the FJBC to comply with Montana State law or show cause why they do not have to comply with the court’s order in 30 days. 

Jon Metropoulos, attorney for the FJBC, said the document had been received, and he has been researching it. 

“We disagree with (WMWUA’s) reading of the statutes,” Metropoulos said.

A Dec. 20 press release from WMWUA alleges that as a result of McNeil’s writ, the Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission did not vote on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes compact at their Dec. 19 meeting. 

RWRCC Program Administrator Bill Schultz disagrees. According to Schultz, three compacts were on the agenda, the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument compact, the Charles Russell Wildlife Refuge compact and the CSKT compact.

Only the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument compact was an action item and was approved for submittal to the state legislature. Schultz said the other two compacts are still in negotiation, so the vote was postponed.

“It’s still the intent of the RWRCC to bring all these compacts to the legislature,” Schultz said.

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