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Procedures, deadlines, stream gauges, and distribution lists: Water committee to consider 7 bills

Members of the Water Policy Interim Committee will review draft committee reports and bills at their upcoming July 16-17 meeting.

The committee will review seven pieces of legislation that may be introduced at the upcoming 2019 legislative session. The bill drafts to be considered would:

  • Define a “supplemental notice” within the Montana Administrative Procedure Act (LCw001)
  • Revise certain water right adjudication processes, such as motions to amend a water right claim, final decree requirements for reserved water rights, and appeal deadlines to the Montana Water Court (LCw002)
  • Allow an extended response deadline for a water right permit or change application (LCw003)
  • Clarify that legal availability analysis does not determine adverse effects as criteria in a water right change application (LCw004)
  • Clarify that a water right permit or a water right change application relying on a waiver of adverse effect does not require a legal availability determination (LCw005)
  • Study Montana’s stream gauge network (LCw006)
  • Allow the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to compile a distribution list of water right holders from the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (LCw007)

The committee will also review draft reports related to two studies: a study of groundwater wells that are exempt from permitting and a study of the process for changing a water right. Other agenda items include:

  • A drought and water supply update
  • A report on best management practices in streamside management zones near timber harvests
  • Possible legislation from the Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee related to small water utilities
  • An overview of Bureau of Land Management water issues in Montana
  • Early warning systems at high-hazard dams
  • A report on hydroelectric potential at state projects
  • Three water quality reports from the Department of Environmental Quality
  • An update on Columbia River Treaty renegotiations
  • An update from the Water Pollution Control Advisory Council
  • Two presentations that may lead to additional bill drafts related to water right adjudication and septic systems

The WPIC meeting may conflict with a possible special legislative session.

If the Legislature calls itself into a special session on July 16, the WPIC meeting will be held later that week. Options include a full or abbreviated agenda, with some items possibly delayed until the September meeting. Any changes to the meeting date or place will be publicly noticed.

WPIC is led by Sen. Pat Connell (R-Hamilton), presiding officer, and Rep. Zach Brown (D-Bozeman), vice presiding officer. Other members are Sens. Jill Cohenour (D-East Helena), Jon Sesso (D-Butte), and Jeffrey Welborn (R-Dillon); and Reps. Bob Brown (R-Thompson Falls), John Fleming (D-St. Ignatius), and Carl Glimm (R-Kila).

WPIC will meet at 1 p.m. on July 16 and at 9 a.m. on July 17 in Room 152 of the Capitol in Helena. The meeting will be live-streamed at www.leg.mt.gov and will be broadcast on Television Montana (TVMT). Please check your local channel listings to find TVMT in your area. For more information on the committee’s activities and upcoming meeting, including a full agenda, please visit the committee’s website or contact Jason Mohr, committee staff.

Committee Website:  www.leg.mt.gov/water

Committee Staff:  jasonmohr@mt.gov or 406-444-1640

Kate Arpin

Kate is the Communications and Technology Manager for Soil & Water Conservation Districts of Montana. She manages the website, puts out The Montana Conservationist every other week, and assists conservation districts with technology, websites, and communications.

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