© 2013 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
As you read this post, please keep in mind the whole purpose of the negotiations are to quantify the tribe’s water right.
At the Judiciary Committee hearing on HB629 for the CSKT Water Compact, the bill’s sponsor Kathleen Williams tried to paint compact opposition as fearful and confused. After all, this is a very complex document, and the public can’t possibly have the intelligence to understand it or to consider it’s far reaching implications. We were told that people were fearful prior to the ratification of other compacts, but they turned out fine. Therefore we should take a leap of faith and assume this compact is just like any other.
As of the writing of this post, the compact commission has not provided the public with how much water is in the compact, the quantification of the tribal water right. Instead they refer the public to the 1,000 or so pages of water abstracts in the appendices. During the hearing on Wednesday, Chris Tweeten, chair of the compact commission confirmed the fact they had not provided quantification numbers. Then instead of using the golden opportunity to provide the numbers, he opted to marginalize ours, stating a whole lot of reasons why they were wrong. No one called him on it. REALLY?
So we ask, is it the public’s job to do the quantification for them? We went through the monumental task of looking through the abstracts and trying to determine it ourselves, and estimate it to be about 48 million acre feet of water. That’s 48 times more water than has been awarded in any tribal compact or litigation settlement in the United States. To give you some perspective, Wind River ended up giving only 500,000 acre feet to the Arapaho and Shoshone tribes after many years of litigation. Are you getting the picture?
Perhaps the commission declines to provide the information because they realize the public would be astounded at the scope and magnitude of this compact, and what it will mean to all the water basins in western Montana. Perhaps they decline because our number is too low, because many of the abstracts include no volumes of water for wetlands or high mountain lakes. Or perhaps they didn’t want the public to see there was a 3,000,000 acre foot error in the Flathead River abstracts on the first go around.
- Why the hesitancy to provide the information?
- How does the CSKT tribal water right compare to all the water available in western Montana?
- Are they concerned people will realize the state compact commission conceded most of the water in western Montana?
- Is it possible they don’t want the public to see that the state totally capitulated to the tribe’s assertion that they own all the water, and not only do they own the water, but they should be able to administer it on the reservation?
Take a look at this chart and see if you think it’s just like any other compact. Please share it with your neighbors.