by John Crowley, Manager, Bitter Root Irrigation District, Corvallis, Montana
Standing up for what is right isn’t always easy, and with an issue as contentious and important as water use, there is bound to be conflict and disagreement—which is why I think Senator Fred Thomas deserves to be thanked for his service to Montana and for his vote in support of the CSKT Water Compact.
By voting for the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Water Compact, Senator Thomas did what it is critical for our elected officials to do—evaluate the proposal on its merits and how it will impact the people of Montana.
He didn’t buy into the fact-less arguments of the opponents; he stood up for Montana’s hard working farmers, ranchers, irrigators, and water users across the state to ensure that our water resources are available now, and for future generations.
If the Compact fails, the CSKT are required by Montana law to file legal claims to define their federally reserved water rights by June 30th of this year. If the Compact is allowed to fail, thousands of Montana water users would be subject to litigation.
Senator Thomas did his part in protecting Montanans from the wave of costly litigation that will follow if the Compact is not passed.
Now that the Compact has been passed out of the Senate and into the House, my only hope is that his counterparts in the House give this proposal the same time and consideration that Senator Thomas did.