by Walt Sales, Manhattan, Montana
The future of our water resources hangs in the balance. The decision that legislators make on the CSKT Water Compact will either provide water and property rights certainty or condemn thousands of farmers, ranchers, and irrigators to decades of legal battles and millions of dollars of unnecessary legal costs.
Unfortunately, out-of-state activists are spreading misinformation about the Compact to further their own agenda. They think they know what’s best for our state and are trying to dictate the future of our water resources by bullying Montana legislators into voting against the Compact.
Representatives, don’t give in to their scare tactics and fear mongering.
The Montana Farm Bureau Federation, the Montana Stockgrowers Association, the Montana Water Resources Association, Farmers and Ranchers for Montana (FARM) and a host of other agriculture and water use organizations have aligned in support of the Compact.
Why? Because it protects existing water rights, will prevent litigation, and ensure the availability of our water resources now and into the future. If the Compact fails the tribe is required by state law to file claims in court. While some say this is a threat, we all know that if we as irrigators were in the same position, we would file our claims. A simple risk benefit analysis makes it clear. A Compact that protects Montana water users from call vs the potential of thousands of claims being filed to which we would have to object—the vote seems easy. Sadly, some legislators claim that their “principles” prevent them from supporting the best interests of their constituents—the Compact.
The choice is clear—passing the Compact will make Montana stronger. I encourage our elected officials to pass the Compact and stand by those who stand by Montana’s farmers, ranchers, and water users.