The Water Policy Interim Committee seeks stakeholder and public input regarding two studies—one of the future of the Water Court (House Joint Resolution 14) and another of weather modification laws (HJ40). The 2019 Legislature passed both study resolutions, which WPIC agreed to conduct.

HJ14 states that “it may be wise to retain [Water Court judges’ and masters’] expertise for future decades of water rights administration in Montana.” The Legislature created the court in 1979 as a venue to litigate 219,000 historical water rights claims. The court must also issue final decrees in the state’s 85 hydrologic basins for these water rights. HJ14 asks WPIC to “review the future role of the Montana Water Court and, if possible, make recommendations for the Water Court.”

HJ40 is a review of weather modification, also referred to as “cloud seeding.” The technique is used to enhance precipitation, suppress hail, and mitigate fog. Weather modification, which was developed in the 1940s, is more commonly used in other Western states. Montana state law requires permittees to conduct and environmental impact statement and provide $10 million proof of financial responsibility for each weather modification project. The study resolution requests the committee “to propose changes in order to encourage use of this scientific technique.”

The committee has heard mostly background material related to the two studies in its first two meetings of the 2019-20 interim.              

The WPIC is asking the public and stakeholders about relevant issues and possible issues for each study. Written comments may be submitted by mail or email to committee staff. If sending an email, please indicate in the subject line which study resolutions is being referenced. Comments must be received by Dec. 11 for consideration by the committee at its Jan. 6-7 meeting.

The WPIC is led by Rep. Zach Brown, D-Bozeman, chairman, and Sen. Jeffrey Welborn, R-Dillon, vice-chairman. Other members of the committee are: Sen. Jill Cohenour (D-E. Helena), Sen. Bruce “Butch” Gillespie (R-Ethridge), Sen. Jon Sesso (D-Butte), Rep. Bob Brown (R-Thompson Falls), Rep. Carl Glimm (R-Kila), Rep. Bradley Maxon Hamlett (D-Cascade), Rep. Shane Morigeau (D-Missoula), and Rep. Walt Sales (R-Manhattan).

For more information on the committee's activities and meetings, please visit the committee’s website or contact Jason Mohr, committee staff.

Committee Website:

Committee Staff: or 406-444-1640

Committee mailing address:

Water Policy Interim Committee;

Capitol Building, room 171D;     

P.O. Box 201704

Helena, MT  59620-1704

The Legislative News.