Montana water rights are based on the appropriation system, meaning that the earliest rights are the most valuable. The deadline to timely file claims for water rights in use as of June 30, 1973, i.e. historical water rights, was April 30, 1982. Many of these historical water rights date back to the late 19th century. As you can imagine, finding information to substantiate claims that were filed 35 years ago based on events that happened over a century ago does not lend itself to quick Google searches.
Montana water users are watching the growing water rights dispute in Washington, because Montana has looked at aspects of Washington’s approach to water rights as an example to follow.
Nancy Zalutsky, Water Rights Specialist and Certified Paralegal, compiles the recent Montana water bills that are advancing in legislature. She also discusses ways in which you can track their progress and make your voice heard.
Colleen Coyle discusses tangible action items Montana landowner’s can do to protect their water rights during the water rights reexamination and “second decree” process.
Understanding water rights can be a daunting task. I know, because I didn’t understand a thing about them as little as ten months ago, but since then I’ve found they are one of the most important aspects of land value in Montana and the West.
Montana’s Water Policy Interim Committee (WPIC) will hold its next meeting August 29-30 at the Capitol in Helena – and it’s a critical time for water rights holders to become engaged. Even if you belong to a group represented by a lobbyist, now is the time to become better informed and let the Legislature know what you think and how their decisions impact Montana water users.
You own a home with a well, some acreage with a spring-fed pond or a large agricultural operation with livestock and acres of irrigated hay. You are positive you own water rights, but a search of the state website does not list any water rights in your name or the ranch name. Does this mean you don’t own any rights? Why aren‘t your water rights listed in the state database?
Learn how the Montana water rights adjudication started as a local, personalized process using field investigation and personal interviews, but evolved into a procedure involving a centralized system which now relies on document review, Claims Examination Rules and an examination manual spanning over 600 pages.
Here at Water Sage, we wade into all things water, especially in Montana, where water leaders meet policy challenges head on. Through our upcoming blog series on state legislative issues we’ll help you navigate Montana’s water policy changes, so you can participate in shaping that policy. Stay in touch with our team if you have questions – we love to help spur conversations about water resources!
Converting flood irrigation to pivots and other sprinkler methods is a common upgrade on ranch and farm properties. While the conversions tend to lead to more efficient water use in agriculture, they are not as simple as just installing a pivot and operating it. In this post, Nancy delves into the permitting and water right changes that are required to convert to more efficient means of irrigation.