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Hathaway presents groundwater information

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PABLO — Deborah L. Hathaway from S.S. Papadopulos & Associates, Inc., gave a presentation on groundwater at the Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission Negotiating session on May 26.

Hathaway said the goals for the study were to understand ground water in the major basins — the Little Bitterroot, the Jocko and the Mission, and to develop models for evaluating groundwater management action on the aquifer and streams.  

Hathaway explained that groundwater models were a tool for tracking the movement of underground water.

The models, Hathaway said, allow “taking the mapped information and translating it into a computer model.” 

The take home information, according to Hathaway, were four considerations for water management:

1. Pumping and reduced recharge (natural or man-induced) affect

• Streams

• Wetlands

• Springs

2. Irrigation conservation won’t generate “new water” but will provide an opportunity to improve the instream flow hydrograph

3. Maintenance of historical beneficial uses, including fisheries and cultural uses, will require careful and active management

4. Hydrologic trade-offs will be associated with new uses; careful and active management will be needed.

In other meeting business, CSKT Attorney John Carter said the legal team has been working on part IV of the compact, which is basically administrative. The attorneys have discussed issues such as changes in water use, how its done, how unitary management will be structured and powers and duties of the unitary management board. 

The framework of the agreement will be posted on the Department of Natural Resources. The website is

RWRCC Chair Chris Tweeten introduced new commission members Carol Williams, D-HD 46, and Rick Kirn, Poplar. 

Susan Cottingham, Program Manager of the RWRCC, will be retiring within the next couple of months. 

DNRC veteran Bill Schultz will move into Cottingham’s position.

The next negotiating session was scheduled for June 30.

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