Water Rights Issue in Montana

The Missoulian article recognizes the problems of water distribution and agreements. The Federal government is the paramount power of when Indian water rights are dealt with. The National Parks are located throughout the Mountain States. To simply assume that one can enter into a contract with another party dealing with water rights simply does not take into consideration the right of the Federal Government and others with interest to the water.


Lake County District Court Judge C.B. McNeil late Friday prohibited the Flathead Joint Board of Control from entering into a proposed Flathead Indian Irrigation Project Water Use Agreement between the irrigators on the Flathead Indian Reservation the joint board represents, and the tribes and federal government.

McNeil ruled that the board and its three irrigation districts “have no authority to enter into any agreement which provides for the irrigators to assign their valuable water rights to the Tribes or to anyone else without any compensation and without any contractual agreement by the Tribes to issue any water rights back to the irrigators.”

Doing so violates the Montana Constitution by taking a private property right without just compensation, McNeil said.

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