2009 Montana Legislature

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HOUSE BILL NO. 40

INTRODUCED BY J. COHENOUR

BY REQUEST OF THE WATER POLICY COMMITTEE

 

AN ACT REVISING THE WATER PERMIT AND CHANGE IN APPROPRIATION RIGHT PROCESS; CLARIFYING THE DEFINITION OF "CORRECT AND COMPLETE"; REQUIRING THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION TO ISSUE A PRELIMINARY DETERMINATION ON A WATER RIGHT PERMIT OR A CHANGE IN APPROPRIATION RIGHT; REQUIRING PERMIT OR CHANGE IN APPROPRIATION RIGHT DECISIONS WITHIN 90 DAYS AFTER CLOSE OF ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD; AMENDING SECTIONS 85-2-102, 85-2-307, 85-2-308, 85-2-309, 85-2-310, 85-2-401, AND 85-2-804, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE AND AN APPLICABILITY DATE.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:

 

     Section 1.  Section 85-2-102, MCA, is amended to read:

     "85-2-102.  Definitions. Unless the context requires otherwise, in this chapter, the following definitions apply:

     (1)  "Appropriate" means:

     (a)  to divert, impound, or withdraw, including by stock for stock water, a quantity of water for a beneficial use;

     (b)  in the case of a public agency, to reserve water in accordance with 85-2-316;

     (c)  in the case of the department of fish, wildlife, and parks, to change an appropriation right to instream flow to protect, maintain, or enhance streamflows to benefit the fishery resource in accordance with 85-2-436;

     (d)  in the case of the United States department of agriculture, forest service:

     (i)  instream flows and in situ use of water created in 85-20-1401, Article V; or

     (ii) to change an appropriation right to divert or withdraw water under subsection (1)(a) to instream flow to protect, maintain, or enhance streamflows in accordance with 85-2-320;

     (e)  temporary changes or leases for instream flow to maintain or enhance instream flow to benefit the fishery resource in accordance with 85-2-408;

     (f)  a use of water for aquifer recharge or mitigation as provided in 85-2-360 and 85-2-362; or

     (g)  a use of water for an aquifer storage and recovery project as provided in 85-2-368.

     (2)  "Aquifer recharge" means either the controlled subsurface addition of water directly to the aquifer or controlled application of water to the ground surface for the purpose of replenishing the aquifer to offset adverse effects resulting from net depletion of surface water.

     (3)  "Aquifer storage and recovery project" means a project involving the use of an aquifer to temporarily store water through various means, including but not limited to injection, surface spreading and infiltration, drain fields, or another department-approved method. The stored water may be either pumped from the injection well or other wells for beneficial use or allowed to naturally drain away for a beneficial use.

     (4)  "Beneficial use", unless otherwise provided, means:

     (a)  a use of water for the benefit of the appropriator, other persons, or the public, including but not limited to agricultural, stock water, domestic, fish and wildlife, industrial, irrigation, mining, municipal, power, and recreational uses;

     (b)  a use of water appropriated by the department for the state water leasing program under 85-2-141 and of water leased under a valid lease issued by the department under 85-2-141;

     (c)  a use of water by the department of fish, wildlife, and parks through a change in an appropriation right for instream flow to protect, maintain, or enhance streamflows to benefit the fishery resource authorized under 85-2-436;

     (d)  a use of water through a temporary change in appropriation right or lease to enhance instream flow to benefit the fishery resource in accordance with 85-2-408;

     (e)  a use of water for aquifer recharge or mitigation as provided in 85-2-360 and 85-2-362; or

     (f)  a use of water for an aquifer storage and recovery project as provided in 85-2-368.

     (5)  "Certificate" means a certificate of water right issued by the department.

     (6)  "Change in appropriation right" means a change in the place of diversion, the place of use, the purpose of use, or the place of storage.

     (7)  "Commission" means the fish, wildlife, and parks commission provided for in 2-15-3402.

     (8)  "Correct and complete" means that the information required to be submitted conforms to the standard of substantial credible information and that all of the necessary parts of the form requiring the information have been filled in with the required information for the department to begin evaluating the information.

     (9)  "Declaration" means the declaration of an existing right filed with the department under section 8, Chapter 452, Laws of 1973.

     (10) "Department" means the department of natural resources and conservation provided for in Title 2, chapter 15, part 33.

     (11) "Developed spring" means any artificial opening or excavation in the ground, however made, including any physical alteration at the point of discharge regardless of whether it results in any increase in the yield of ground water, from which ground water is sought or can be obtained or through which it flows under natural pressures or is artificially withdrawn.

     (12) "Existing right" or "existing water right" means a right to the use of water that would be protected under the law as it existed prior to July 1, 1973. The term includes federal non-Indian and Indian reserved water rights created under federal law and water rights created under state law.

     (13) "Ground water" means any water that is beneath the ground surface.

     (14) "Late claim" means a claim to an existing right forfeited pursuant to the conclusive presumption of abandonment under 85-2-226.

     (15) "Mitigation" means the reallocation of surface water or ground water through a change in appropriation right or other means that does not result in surface water being introduced into an aquifer through aquifer recharge to offset adverse effects resulting from net depletion of surface water.

     (16) "Municipality" means an incorporated city or town organized and incorporated under Title 7, chapter 2.

     (17) "Permit" means the permit to appropriate issued by the department under 85-2-301 through 85-2-303 and 85-2-306 through 85-2-314.

     (18) "Person" means an individual, association, partnership, corporation, state agency, political subdivision, the United States or any agency of the United States, or any other entity.

     (19) (a) "Political subdivision" means any county, incorporated city or town, public corporation, or district created pursuant to state law or other public body of the state empowered to appropriate water.

     (b)  The term does not mean a private corporation, association, or group.

     (20) "Salvage" means to make water available for beneficial use from an existing valid appropriation through application of water-saving methods.

     (21) "State water reservation" means a water right created under state law after July 1, 1973, that reserves water for existing or future beneficial uses or that maintains a minimum flow, level, or quality of water throughout the year or at periods or for defined lengths of time.

     (22) "Substantial credible information" means probable, believable facts sufficient to support a reasonable legal theory upon which the department should proceed with the action requested by the person providing the information.

     (23) "Waste" means the unreasonable loss of water through the design or negligent operation of an appropriation or water distribution facility or the application of water to anything but a beneficial use.

     (24) "Water" means all water of the state, surface and subsurface, regardless of its character or manner of occurrence, including but not limited to geothermal water, diffuse surface water, and sewage effluent.

     (25) "Water division" means a drainage basin as defined in 3-7-102.

     (26) "Water judge" means a judge as provided for in Title 3, chapter 7.

     (27) "Water master" means a master as provided for in Title 3, chapter 7.

     (28) "Watercourse" means any naturally occurring stream or river from which water is diverted for beneficial uses. It does not include ditches, culverts, or other constructed waterways.

     (29) "Well" means any artificial opening or excavation in the ground, however made, by which ground water is sought or can be obtained or through which it flows under natural pressures or is artificially withdrawn."

 

     Section 2.  Section 85-2-307, MCA, is amended to read:

     "85-2-307.  Notice of application for permit or change in appropriation right. (1) Upon receipt of an application for a permit or a change in appropriation right, the department shall publish notice of receipt of the application on the department's website.

     (1)(2) (a) Upon Within 120 days of the receipt of a correct and complete application for a permit or change in appropriation right, the department:

     (i) may meet informally with the applicant, the persons listed in subsection (2)(d), and persons who may claim standing pursuant to 85-2-308 to discuss the application;

     (ii) shall make a written preliminary determination as to whether or not the application satisfies the applicable criteria for issuance of a permit or change in appropriation right; and

     (iii) may include conditions in the written preliminary determination to satisfy applicable criteria for issuance of a permit or change in appropriation right.

     (b) If the preliminary determination proposes to grant an application, the department shall prepare a notice containing the facts pertinent to the application, including the summary of the preliminary determination and any conditions, and shall publish the notice once in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the source.

     (c) If the preliminary determination proposes to deny an application, the process provided in 85-2-310 must be followed.

     (b)(d)  Before the date of publication, the department shall also serve the notice by first-class mail upon:

     (i)  an appropriator of water or applicant for or holder of a permit who, according to the records of the department, may be affected by the proposed appropriation;

     (ii) any purchaser under contract for deed, as defined in 70-20-115, of property that, according to the records of the department, may be affected by the proposed appropriation; and

     (iii) any public agency that has reserved waters in the source under 85-2-316.

     (c)(e)  The department may, in its discretion, also serve notice upon any state agency or other person the department feels may be interested in or affected by the proposed appropriation.

     (d)(f)  The department shall file in its records proof of service by affidavit of the publisher in the case of notice by publication and by its own affidavit in the case of service by mail.

     (2)(3)  The notice shall must state that by a date set by the department, (not less than 15 days or more than 60 days after the date of publication), persons may file with the department written objections to the application.

     (3)(4)  The requirements of subsections (1) (2) and (2) (3) do not apply if the department finds, on the basis of information reasonably available to it, that the appropriation as proposed in the application will not adversely affect the rights of other persons."

 

     Section 3.  Section 85-2-308, MCA, is amended to read:

     "85-2-308.  Objections. (1) (a) An objection to an application under this chapter must be filed by the date specified by the department under 85-2-307(2)(3).

     (b)  The objection to an application for a permit must state the name and address of the objector and facts indicating that one or more of the criteria in 85-2-311 are not met.

     (2)  For an application for a change in appropriation rights, the objection must state the name and address of the objector and facts indicating that one or more of the criteria in 85-2-320, if applicable, 85-2-402, 85-2-407, 85-2-408, and 85-2-436, if applicable, are not met.

     (3)  A person has standing to file an objection under this section if the property, water rights, or interests of the objector would be adversely affected by the proposed appropriation.

     (4)  For an application for a reservation of water, the objection must state the name and address of the objector and facts indicating that one or more of the criteria in 85-2-316 are not met.

     (5)  An objector to an application under this chapter shall file a correct and complete objection on a form prescribed by the department within the time period stated on the public notice associated with the application. In order to assist both applicants and objectors, the department shall adopt rules in accordance with this chapter delineating the components of a correct and complete objection. For instream flow water rights for fish, wildlife, and recreation, the rules must require the objector to describe the reach or portion of the reach of the stream or river subject to the instream flow water right and the beneficial use that is adversely affected and to identify the point or points where the instream flow water right is measured and monitored. The department shall notify the objector of any defects in an objection. An objection not corrected or completed within 15 days from the date of notification of the defects is terminated.

     (6)  An objection is valid if the objector has standing pursuant to subsection (3), has filed a correct and complete objection within the prescribed time period, and has stated the applicable information required under this section and rules of the department."

 

     Section 4.  Section 85-2-309, MCA, is amended to read:

     "85-2-309.  Hearings on objections -- jurisdiction. (1) If the department determines that an objection to an application for a permit under 85-2-311 or change approval in appropriation right under 85-2-402 states a valid objection, it shall hold a contested case hearing, pursuant to Title 2, chapter 4, part 6, on the objection within 60 days from the date set by the department for the filing of objections, contested case hearing, pursuant to Title 2, chapter 4, part 6, on the objection within 90 days from the date set by the department for the filing of objections after serving notice of the hearing by first-class mail upon the applicant and the objector, unless the department certifies an issue to the district court for determination by a water judge under subsection (2). The department may consolidate hearings if more than one objection is filed to an application. The department may extend the 90-day deadline for good cause shown or upon request of the applicant and all objectors. The department shall file in its records proof of the service by affidavit of the department.

     (2)  (a) At any time prior to commencement or before the conclusion of a hearing as provided in subsection (1), the department may in its discretion certify to the district court all factual and legal issues involving the adjudication or determination of the water rights at issue in the hearing, including but not limited to issues of abandonment, quantification, or relative priority dates. Certified controversies must be given priority by a water judge over all other adjudication matters.

     (b)  If the department fails to certify an issue as provided in this section after a timely request by a party to the hearing, the department shall include its denial to certify as part of the record of the hearing.

     (c)  Upon determination of the issues certified to it by the department, the court shall remand the matter to the department for further processing of the application under this chapter.

     (3)  Subsection (2) does not apply in the case of a matter considered at a hearing under this section pursuant to 85-2-316 or 85-2-322."

 

     Section 5.  Section 85-2-310, MCA, is amended to read:

     "85-2-310.  Action on application for permit or change in appropriation right. (1) (a) The department shall grant, deny, or condition an application for a permit or change in appropriation right in whole or in part within 120 days after the last date of publication of the notice of application if no objections have been received and within 180 days if a hearing is held or objections have been received. However, in either case the time may be extended upon agreement of the applicant or, in those cases where an environmental impact statement must be prepared or in other extraordinary cases, may be extended by not more than 60 days upon order of the department. If the department orders the time extended, it shall serve a notice of the extension and the reasons for the extension by first-class mail upon the applicant and each person who has filed an objection as provided by 85-2-308. If the department proposes to deny an application for a permit or a change in appropriation right under 85-2-307, unless the applicant withdraws the application, the department shall hold a hearing pursuant to 2-4-604 after serving notice of the hearing by first-class mail upon the applicant for the applicant to show cause by a preponderance of the evidence as to why the permit or change in appropriation right should not be denied.

     (b) (i) Upon request from the applicant, the department shall appoint a hearing examiner who did not participate in the preliminary determination.

     (ii) The applicant may make only one request pursuant to this subsection (1)(b) for a different hearing examiner.

     (2) A proposal to grant an application with or without conditions following a hearing on a proposal to deny the application must proceed as if the department proposed to grant the application in its preliminary determination pursuant to 85-2-307.

     (3) If valid objections are not received on an application or if valid objections are unconditionally withdrawn and the department preliminarily determined to grant the permit or change in appropriation right, the department shall grant the permit or change in appropriation right as proposed in the preliminary determination pursuant to 85-2-307.

     (4) If valid objections to an application are received and withdrawn with conditions stipulated with the applicant and the department preliminarily determined to grant the permit or change in appropriation right, the department shall grant the permit or change in appropriation right subject to conditions as necessary to satisfy applicable criteria.

     (5) The department shall deny or grant with or without conditions a permit under 85-2-311 or a change in appropriation right under 85-2-402 within 90 days after the administrative record is closed.

     (2)(6)  If an application is to appropriate water with a point of diversion, conveyance, or place of use on national forest system lands, any application approved by the department is subject to any written special use authorization required by federal law to occupy, use, or traverse national forest system lands for the purpose of diversion, impoundment, storage, transportation, withdrawal, use, or distribution of the water applied for and any terms, conditions, and limitations related to the use of water contained in any special use authorization required by federal law.

     (3)(7)  Except as provided in subsection (2) (6), an application may not be denied or approved in a modified form or upon terms, conditions, or limitations specified by the department, unless the applicant is first granted an opportunity to be heard. If an objection is not filed against the application but the department is of the opinion that the application should be denied or approved in a modified form or upon terms, conditions, or limitations specified by it, the department shall prepare a statement of its opinion and its reasons for the opinion. The department shall serve a statement of its opinion by first-class mail upon the applicant, with a notice that the applicant may obtain a hearing by filing a request within 30 days after the notice is mailed. The notice must further state that the application will be modified in a specified manner or denied unless a hearing is requested.

     (4)(8)  The department may cease action upon an application for a permit or change in appropriation right and return it to the applicant when it finds that the application is not in good faith or does not show a bona fide intent to appropriate water for a beneficial use. An application returned for either of these reasons must be accompanied by a statement of the reasons for which it was returned, and for a permit application there is not a right to a priority date based upon the filing of the application. Returning an application pursuant to this subsection is a final decision of the department.

     (5)(9)  For all applications filed after July 1, 1973, the department shall find that an application is not in good faith or does not show a bona fide intent to appropriate water for a beneficial use if:

     (a)  an application is not corrected and completed as required by 85-2-302;

     (b)  the appropriate filing fee is not paid;

     (c)  the application does not document:

     (i)  a beneficial use of water;

     (ii) the proposed place of use of all water applied for;

     (iii) for an appropriation of 4,000 acre-feet a year or more and 5.5 cubic feet per second or more, a detailed project plan describing when and how much water will be put to a beneficial use. The project plan must include a reasonable timeline for the completion of the project and the actual application of the water to a beneficial use.

     (iv) for appropriations not covered in subsection (4)(c)(iii) (9)(c)(iii), a general project plan stating when and how much water will be put to a beneficial use; and

     (v)  if the water applied for is to be appropriated above that which will be used solely by the applicant or if it will be marketed by the applicant to other users, information detailing:

     (A)  each person who will use the water and the amount of water each person will use;

     (B)  the proposed place of use of all water by each person;

     (C)  the nature of the relationship between the applicant and each person using the water; and

     (D)  each firm contractual agreement for the specified amount of water for each person using the water; or

     (d)  the appropriate environmental impact statement costs or fees, if any, are not paid as required by 85-2-124."

 

     Section 6.  Section 85-2-401, MCA, is amended to read:

     "85-2-401.  Priority -- recognition and confirmation of changes in appropriations issued after July 1, 1973. (1) As between appropriators, the first in time is the first in right. Priority of appropriation does not include the right to prevent changes by later appropriators in the condition of water occurrence, such as the increase or decrease of streamflow or the lowering of a water table, artesian pressure, or water level, if the prior appropriator can reasonably exercise the water right under the changed conditions.

     (2)  Priority of appropriation made under this chapter dates from the filing of an application for a permit with the department, except as otherwise provided in 85-2-301 through 85-2-303, 85-2-306, 85-2-310(4) 85-2-310(8), and 85-2-313.

     (3)  Priority of appropriation perfected before July 1, 1973, must be determined as provided in part 2 of this chapter.

     (4)  All changes in appropriation rights actions of the department after July 1, 1973, are recognized and confirmed subject to this part and any terms, conditions, and limitations placed on a change in appropriation authorization by the department."

 

     Section 7.  Section 85-2-804, MCA, is amended to read:

     "85-2-804.  Application -- notice -- objections -- hearing. (1) Any appropriator proposing to divert from the basin water allocated to Montana under the terms of the compact or divert from the basin unallocated compact water within Montana shall file an application with the department. The application must state the name and address of the applicant and facts tending to show that:

     (a)  the diversion and ultimate use of the water in Montana is for a beneficial use of water;

     (b)  the diversion and ultimate use of water will not adversely affect the water rights of other persons;

     (c)  the proposed means of diversion, construction, and operation are adequate;

     (d)  the diversion and ultimate use will not interfere unreasonably with other planned uses or developments for which a water right has been established or a permit has been issued or for which water has been reserved;

     (e)  the diversion and ultimate use of the water will not exceed the allocated share under the compact of any of the signatory states;

     (f)  the diversion and ultimate use of the water are in the public interest of Montana; and

     (g)  the applicant intends to comply with the laws of the signatory states to the compact.

     (2)  Any appropriator proposing to divert from the basin water allocated to North Dakota or Wyoming under the terms of the compact or divert from the basin unallocated compact water within North Dakota or Wyoming shall file an application with the department. The application must state the name and address of the applicant and facts tending to show that:

     (a)  the proposed means of diversion, construction, and operation are adequate;

     (b)  the diversion and ultimate use of the water will not exceed the allocated share under the compact of any of the signatory states; and

     (c)  the applicant intends to comply with the compact.

     (3)  Notice of the proposed diversion must be given by the department in the same manner as provided in subsections (1) and (2) of 85-2-307(1) through (3).

     (4)  An objection to an application must be filed by the date specified by the department in the notice.

     (5)  The objector to an application under subsection (1) shall state his name and address and facts tending to show that:

     (a)  the diversion and ultimate use of the water in Montana are not for a beneficial use of water;

     (b)  the property, rights, or interests of the objector would be adversely affected by the proposed diversion or ultimate use of the water;

     (c)  the proposed means of diversion, construction, and operation are not adequate;

     (d)  the diversion and ultimate use will interfere unreasonably with the objector's planned uses or development for which the objector has a water right, a permit, or a reserved water right;

     (e)  the diversion and ultimate use of the water will exceed the allocated share under the compact of any signatory state; or

     (f)  the diversion and ultimate use of the water are not in the public interest of Montana.

     (6)  The objector to an application under subsection (2) shall state his name and address and facts tending to show that:

     (a)  the property, rights, or interests of the objector would be adversely affected by the proposed diversion or ultimate use of the water;

     (b)  the proposed means of diversion, construction, and operation are not adequate; or

     (c)  the diversion and ultimate use of the water will exceed the allocated share under the compact of any signatory state.

     (7)  If the department receives an objection to an application, it shall hold a hearing on the application within 60 days from the date set by the department for filing objections. Service of notice of the hearing must be made by certified mail upon the applicant and the objector.

     (8)  The hearing shall be conducted under the contested case procedures of the Montana Administrative Procedure Act in Title 2, chapter 4, part 6."

 

     Section 8.  Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 2009.

 

     Section 9.  Applicability. [This act] applies to applications received by the department after [the effective date of this act].

- END -

 


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