Earlier this week, the Water Policy Interim Committee (WPIC) held its final meeting of the 2013-2014 legislative session in Helena.  Knowing that most of the committee members support the compact as it is currently written, it was no surprise to see that the committee focused its efforts on recommendations to put enough lipstick on the pig to garner what they hope will be enough votes to pass an essentially unchanged compact through in the 2015 legislature.  Here is a link to the recommendations that were proposed by the committee.

What is more important for the public to know is that while the committee gave little more than lip service to responding to the studies requested by Representatives Ballance,  Regier, and fifty other legislators, no serious attempt was actually made to answer their significant and important questions about the compact.  Additionally we understand that the rigorous and unbiased studies requested to help understand the impacts of this forever document were not completed.


In recent updates, we’ve explained that Concerned Citizens of Western Montana has done all they can as citizens to work with the legislature to get a compact that will work for everyone.  Throughout the past 18 or so months, we have watched the tribe and the state dig in their heels to advance a compact that is essentially unchanged from the 2013 version submitted to the legislature.

Montanans now find themselves somewhere in no man’s land where we understand just how bad the compact is, yet our state has adamantly refused to address any of the SERIOUS concerns of the public.  Dr. Kate explains this very well in our most recent blog post:  CROSSING THE CSKT COMPACT RUBICON.

It is time for Montanans to understand that we are getting down to the wire and the CSKT water compact, coupled with the tribe’s very aggressive lawsuit, represent an attempt to put the lives of many into checkmate.  If these efforts are successful, not only your water rights are in jeopardy, but the ownership of your property as well.  If you are sitting on the fence, get off of it.  If you are keeping quiet because of your tribal leases, please consider that the tribe is banking on you losing everything anyway, and if you fail to stand against this now, you will likely lose it all later anyway.

The Montana Land and Water Alliance was created specifically to mount a legal defense strategy to stop the aggression of the tribe and the federal government upon Montana citizens.   THIS IS NOT JUST A FLATHEAD RESERVATION ISSUE, NOR IS IT JUST A WESTERN MONTANA ISSUE.  If the tribe prevails on both counts, land patents and water rights throughout the western United States are jeopardized.   The cost of defending against the Tribes’ planned outcome for us all pales in comparison to what will be lost if they are successful.

Your financial support is necessary to defeat this effort to control, if not own the land and waters of western Montana.  Please help us get the word out and visit our website to learn more about the alliance and for details on how to financially support and join this effort to protect the water and property rights of all.


The attorneys retained by the Montana Land and Water Alliance are Richard Simms (Arizona), Jay Stein and Jim Brockmann (New Mexico).  Between them, they have more than 100 years of experience defending states, municipalities and individuals from an overly aggressive federal government when it comes to federal reserved water rights.  All three have been successful arguing such cases in front of the United States Supreme Court.  We encourage you to check them how.  Here is a brief overview of information about each of them.

One of their first efforts on behalf of the alliance was to provide an assessment of the Helen Thigpen, legal / constitutional analysis of the water compact presented in September.  In preparation for her report, Thigpen consulted with compact proponents and the compact commission, resulting in a document that essentially tried to paint a narrative that the compact was a “reasonable” settlement based upon the likelihood of how a judge might rule in court.

Please find a link to the white paper prepared and submitted to WPIC conveying the Alliance’s response to the Thigpen analysis.


The compact commission “negotiation” narrative continues.  A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday November 5, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. at the KwaTakNuk in Polson.  So knowing the results of WPIC as discussed about the only question is will they have already magically incorporated the WPIC suggestions into what will be a final revised compact, or will they put the public through the misery of yet one more session later in the month after the tribe has “considered” the WPIC recommendations, submitting a final compact then?

All said and done, here are a few things we know for sure:

  1.  Irrigators were arrogantly left out of the equation, while the ownership of their water rights were bargained away by the state
  2. We are closing in on the holiday season, and based upon history, think it likely that the compact commission could hold public meetings between Thanksgiving and Christmas, just as they did in 2012.
  3. After two years, the state continues its insistence upon marching down a pathway toward the destruction of the lives and property of many of its citizens, establishing precedent that is likely to have statewide implications.
  4. We still don’t know how much water is in the compact.

What we don’t know for sure is what kind of money, promises and political agendas were played out behind the scenes to make the state willing to throw away its resources, its sovereignty and its citizens under the bus.