NewsMontana and Regional News


Flathead water dispute is already generating positive reaction

Posted at 3:26 PM, Dec 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-06 17:26:50-05

The proposed settlement of the Flathead water dispute is generating action from the principal players who been working on the issue for years.

Senator Jon Tester, who had introduced a bill attempting to get Congress to endorse the Flathead Water Compact in 2016, tells MTN News the settlement between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the federal government is very positive, because it keeps the claims from years of litigation

"Yeah, you've got the uncertainty of waiting. ... The fact of the matter is the best way to do this pass the bill that's basically the bill the Legislature passed, get it through the process, get it sent back to the Reservation folks that live there and get it done. I think it has much more certainty and reduces litigation big time." said Senator Jon Tester.

The settlement would replace the Flathead Water Compact that was developed over years of hearings, meetings and work, and approved by the Montana Legislature and signed by Governor Bullock and C-S-K-T tribal leaders in 2015.

But as Tester points out, that work is still folded into the agreement. And tribal leaders are also welcoming a resolution of an issue that's been a concern for generations.

"Our tribe's Chairman, Ronald Trahan, said this will work." said Robert McDonald the CSKT Communications Director. "It will get the job done."

He added that this bill will insure the protection of the vital resources while seeing to the needs of the greater community. The tribes on this reservation worked hard to be good neighbors, and sometimes that means making tough decisions which serve the entire community."

The tribe notes settlement will "fund performance of critical restoration and mitigation work on streams and wetlands that have been impacted by the irrigation project over the last century, benefiting fisheries, wildlife, and the public."