Over the past couple of months, I or others I’ve known, have been in contact with some of the large organizations that represent constituencies that will be impacted by the CSKT Reserved Water Rights Compact currently being negotiated.   These would include the several groups that represent farmers and ranchers, realtors, wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts, as well as other segments of business owners in western Montana.  While great differences exist between these organizations and their constituencies, the fact remains that all of them will be impacted by the water rights compact in one way or another.

We’ve been curious as to where these groups stand on the compact, and what, if anything they are doing about it.  Amazingly, their public position statements, at least via telephone are pretty much the same:

We are and have been monitoring the situation.  Any position statements and arguments for or against will have to reflect our policy.   Blah, blah, blah.

Well what the heck are they waiting for, we ask?  With the clock ticking and only a few short months to 2013, is there a chance they’re waiting for the final compact with all documents?  If they are, won’t that be a little too late?

One can’t help but wonder if this has more to do with the lack of political courage to speak out, or to take a position on it, because they know people are divided.  It is at times such as these, people count on the organizations they belong to for leadership, guidance and information.  Members of these organizations expect them to take a stand for the people they represent, even if it’s not popular with everyone.

Let’s take the stipulation agreement for example.

There are many problematic issues with the agreement, not to mention the way the public comment period, which ends on 08/02, has been managed.  Will these groups participate in the public comments, or allow the deadline to pass without an official statement or comment from their organization?

My guess is they lack the courage to participate, or to even request an extension.  If they truly were monitoring the situation, they why would they not take a position on the stipulation agreement to date?  This makes them pretty useless in terms of providing leadership on the issue.  Shame on them.

Based upon their inaction on the stipulation agreement, we ask:

Will they use the same approach when the Unitary Management Ordinance and the compact are forced into the “public” comment period? 

Tick, tick, tick.  Time is running out.

We sincerely hope these groups find the political courage to do the right thing.

In the meantime, we encourage readers to contact the groups you have membership in, to demand they develop some backbone and get out in front of this issue before it’s too late.