Opinion

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Letter

Support Montana Water Rights Protection Act

The legislation will eliminate costly litigation to resolve thousands of individual claims for water

Water is not something to waste. We farm in St. Ignatius and rely on the Flathead Irrigation Project to deliver water to our fields. It’s time to settle tribal water right claims and it’s time to modernize the irrigation district’s system. That’s why we support Sen. Steve Daines’ and Sen. Jon Tester’s “Montana Water Rights Protection Act of 2019.”

Tribal water rights precede all irrigators’ water rights, originating in the Hellgate Treaty of 1855. The courts have been crystal clear about that. The senators’ bill settles most tribal claims and provides significant funding to modernize the Flathead irrigation system.

The legislation will eliminate costly litigation to resolve thousands of individual claims for water, and the irrigation improvements will save a lot of water that will help ensure that irrigators receive their allocations, and that streams will not be “de-watered.”

The Montana Water Rights Protection Act of 2019 makes sense. It makes big cents. As irrigators we support it. If you believe in using water wisely, and in settling this important water issue in western Montana, then please call Daines and Tester and tell them you support it too. Thank you.

Dave Hadden, Bigfork
Jesse Hadden, St. Ignatius