85-2-321. Milk River basin -- suspension of action on permits -- proposal -- priority in adjudication process. (1) (a) In order to balance the need for the continued development of Montana's water and for protection of existing rights in the Milk River basin, the department may suspend action on a class of applications or may close a source in the basin and refuse to accept a class of applications, or both, for a permit under this part to appropriate from that source in the basin.
(b) Suspension or closure, or both, may only be proposed by the department.
(c) The proposal must state the source in the basin and class of applications for which suspension or closure, or both, is being proposed and any of the following allegations:
(i) that the frequency of occurrence of unappropriated waters is such that:
(A) any new appropriation from the source for the class of applications will adversely affect the rights of a prior appropriation from the source; or
(B) any new appropriation from the source for the class of applications will interfere unreasonably with another planned use or development for which a permit has been given or for which water has been reserved pursuant to this part in the source; or
(ii) that significant disputes or enforcement problems regarding priority of rights or amounts or duration of water in use by appropriators are in progress or will arise.
(2) After April 8, 1985, the chief water judge shall make issuance of a temporary preliminary decree in the Milk River basin the highest priority in the adjudication of existing water rights pursuant to Title 85, chapter 2, part 2.