Why Montana needs the Water Compact

by Dr. Ed Berry

In late November 2014, before I studied the Compact, I opposed the Compact. But a good scientist always looks for evidence that his theory is wrong.

So I set aside a few weeks to read the Compact, the arguments, pros and cons, and matched the rebuttals to every argument. Once I had the facts and arguments straight, the proper conclusion became obvious:

Montana needs the CSKT Water Compact.

The Compact a non-partisan issue.

Joey brought a puppy to his kindergarten class. After much attention, Jamie asked, “Is it a boy puppy or a girl puppy?

When the class could not agree on the sex of the puppy, Billy suggested, “Let’s vote on it.”

The puppy’s sex is a non-partisan issue. We can’t determine the truth by vote.

The Compact is a non-partisan issue. We can’t decide whether it’s best for Montana by vote. Truth will make us free. Delusion will not.

Yet the Compact has become very partisan.

All opponents’ arguments fail.

Opponents use these arguments to claim we should reject the Compact:

  1. It’s permanent.
  2. I can’t edit it.
  3. Money is promoting it.
  4. It gives the feds control of Montana’s water.
  5. It’s a government conspiracy to move us out of Montana and into a crowded apartment complex in southern California or into a FEMA camp.
  6. It’s against my principles.
  7. It steals people’s water rights.
  8. $55 million is too much money.
  9. Tribes are too greedy.
  10. It’s unconstitutional.
  11. It violates the Hellgate Treaty.
  12. I can get a better deal if I litigate.
  13. I don’t trust lawyers.
  14. The Democrats are for it, therefore Republicans must oppose it.

All these arguments are negative and invalid. They miss the fundamental question of the Compact, which is:

What is best for Montana? The Compact or no Compact?

No opponent has shown Montana will benefit more if we reject the Compact.

Let’s review two opponent arguments.

#4. It gives the feds control of Montana’s water.

Opponents are 180 degrees out of phase. The Compact limits federal control of Montana’s water. No Compact opens the door to federal control of Montana’s water. The feds have infinite money and time to win their lawsuits. If you don’t trust the feds, then you want to approve the Compact.

#11. The Hellgate Treaty does not give Tribes off-reservation water rights.

This claim is hypothetical because all the Professional Compact lawyers disagree with it.

Opponents want Montana to reject Compact benefits, a bird in the hand, and gamble they can beat the Tribes and feds in court and somehow gain more benefits than the Compact provides immediately. It’s impossible.

Opponents tell us to gamble Montana’s future on the remote possibility that the professional Compact attorneys are wrong.

You can take this a gamble on your personal dime but don’t include me and everyone else in Montana with you.

Here are some Compact benefits:

  1. The Compact is the best solution to our complex water problem.
  2. The Compact harms no one and it does not remove anyone’s proven water rights.
  3. The Compact limits the Fed’s control of Montana’s water.
  4. The Compact stops CSKT water lawsuits on and off its reservation.
  5. The Compact stops CSKT off-reservation calls.
  6. The Compact assures irrigators their historic amounts of water.
  7. The Compact will help irrigators produce more product with less water.
  8. The Compact avoids a Litigation Generation: 30 years and $2 billion of risky lawsuits
  9. The Compact brings Federal investment of possible $2 billion into Montana’s economy
  10. The Compact will improve property values and help Montana develop its economy.
  11. The Compact includes agreement by CSKT to share in water shortages in dry years.
  12. The Compact includes stops out-of-state calls on Hungry Horse water.

These last two points alone are reasons to approve the Compact. Severe droughts have occurred in the past and they will occur again. Trees below the surface of Lake McDonald and Lake Tahoe testify to past severe droughts.

Litigation cannot recover Compact benefits, even if all litigation is successful.

A word about organization

Organization has more value than disorganization. Our industrial society is based upon organization. This building we are in is organized from materials. It has value and it allows us to create more value.

Our Internet is the organization of information. Without this organization, contained in highly-organized mathematical packets, we would have no Internet.

From dust you are and to dust you shall return. When the dust is you, the dust is organized and more valuable.

We don’t like terrorists because they blow things up and kill people. They disorganize things and destroy value.

The Compact is an organized solution to a complex problem.

It may not be perfect but it is more valuable than the disorganized alternative of 10,000 disorganized lawsuits.

The value of organization derives from entropy in physics and information theory in mathematics. It is always true and it shows us why we must approve the Compact.

This is why the overview to my edberry.com website begins with:

Ishi looked upon us as sophisticated children – smart, but not wise. We knew many things, and much that was false. He knew nature, which is always true.”

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