Montana Code Annotated 2015

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     85-5-110. Appointment of water mediators -- duties. (1) Except as provided in 85-20-1902, the judge of the district court may appoint a water mediator to mediate a water controversy in a decreed or nondecreed basin under the following circumstances:
     (a) upon request of the governor;
     (b) upon petition by at least 15% of the owners of water rights in a decreed or nondecreed basin; or
     (c) in the discretion of the district court having jurisdiction.
     (2) A water mediator appointed under this section may:
     (a) discuss proposed solutions to a water controversy with affected water right holders;
     (b) review options related to scheduling and coordinating water use with affected water right holders;
     (c) discuss water use and water needs with persons and entities affected by the existing water use;
     (d) meet with principal parties to mediate differences over the use of water; and
     (e) hold public meetings and conferences to discuss and negotiate potential solutions to controversies over use of water.
     (3) If the governor requests or a state agency petitions for a water mediator, the governor or agency shall pay all or a majority of the costs of the water mediator as determined equitable by the district court having jurisdiction.
     (4) The governor may use funds appropriated under 75-1-1101 to pay the costs of a water mediator.
     (5) This section does not allow a water mediator to require any valid water right holder to compromise or reduce any of the holder's existing water rights.
     (6) If an appropriator voluntarily ceases to use all or part of an appropriation right or voluntarily ceases to use an appropriation right according to its terms and conditions as a result of the efforts of a mediator appointed under this section, the appropriator may not be considered to have abandoned all or any portion of the appropriation right.

     History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 625, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 108, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 2776, Ch. 56, L. 2009; amd. Sec. 11, Ch. 294, L. 2015.

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