A November conference call is planned, after WPIC hears of complications with updating water rights ownership.

The Water Policy Interim Committee plans to further discuss the state's water rights database, after testimony at the the committee's Sept. 10 Dillon meeting claimed the database is rife with errors.

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation maintains a database of Montana's 366,000 water rights. The owners of thousands of these rights change annually, usually through land sales. The DNRC and Department of Revenue compare records by law.

Confusion may be created with land parcels are changed, split, or consolidated, according to Millie Heffner, chief of the DNRC's Water Rights Bureau. The bureau has corrected hundreds of mistakes associated with "geocodes," which is a unique property identifier used for most water rights, Heffner said.

The state needs to clean up the database because errors and inaccuracies cause headaches for the water right holders, said Dillon attorney Jean Bergeson. And some landowners are claiming water they never had to right to, she said.

The WPIC will schedule further testimony tentatively for November from the DNRC, as well as perhaps from other entities such as Revenue, county clerks and recorders, and title companies.

The Legislative News.