The Montana Water Law reflects the historical National League support of wise management of resources in the public interest and an environment beneficial to life.
The 1983 League Convention adopted a study to define “surplus” water, to explore market uses of surplus water, and to consider Montana’s relationships with neighboring states. The Position adopted in 1985 is broad in scope.
Recent drought conditions in Montana have increased interest in water storage facilities for agricultural operations and maintaining instream flow for fisheries.
The 2015 Convention discussed concerns about chemicals injected into the ground as part of natural gas fracturing and that a list of all chemicals injected should be made public as part of the NEPA process.
The League of Women Voters of Montana supports:
1. Water resource programs and policies that reflect the relationship of water quality and quantity to ground and surface water resources.
2. A permanent advisory board or commission that represents all water users.
3. A legally defensible adjudication process.
4. A reservation system that protects instream flows and allows for future needs.
5. A reasonable nondegradation policy that meets requirements of the Montana Constitution.
6. Development of storage facilities to conserve water for beneficial uses.
7. Careful analysis of existing aquifers and adjacent streams in future water allocation requests.
8. A system for marketing surplus water available after completion of the adjudication and reservation processes, including provisions for:
a. Protection of water quality and water supplies against potential depletion and pollution.
b. Evaluation of the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the diversion facilities and of the impacts on the basin of origin and on the receiving area.
c. Limitation of the sale to legally-defined beneficial uses.
d. Protection of existing water rights and uses, instream flows, and reservations for future needs.
e. Limitation on the amount of water sold and on the length of time water can be marketed.