The Water Policy Interim Committee seeks stakeholder and public suggestions to ensure the accuracy of the water rights database. A committee-appointed working group will consider the submitted suggestions during a mid-April conference call.
The Geocodes Working Group met in March to discuss the database and consider the use of geocodes as an identifier of a water right's place of use. The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation administers the database, which includes information about more than 366,000 water rights. In past meetings, the committee heard testimony that the use of geocodes may be the source of inaccuracies, which complicate land sales, property improvements, probate proceedings, and water use.
At WPIC's March meeting, the committee adopted an initial framework of 15 suggestions. The working group is asking the public and stakeholders to respond to the framework and/or provide other written suggestions by mail or email to committee staff by April 13. The working group will forward recommendations to WPIC for consideration at its May 18-19 meeting. (The 15 suggestions are at the end of this document.)
The committee previously asked for public comment on geocodes and the water right database in December. These comments are posted on the committee website. (See "committee topics" in middle of page.)
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).
Members of the Geocodes Working Group include all committee members and Krista Lee Evans, Association of Gallatin Area Irrigator and Senior Water Rights Coalition; James Ferch, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation; Bill Gowen, Jr., Montana Land Title Association; Evan Hammer, Natural Resources Information Service; Kory Hofland, Department of Revenue; Hon. Russ McElyea, Montana Water Court; Regina Plettenberg, Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders; Shantil Siaperas, Montana Association of Counties; and Liane Taylor, Montana Association of Realtors.
For more information on the committee's or working group's activities and meetings, including notice of the working group's April meeting, please visit the committee’s website or contact Jason Mohr, committee staff.
Committee Website: leg.mt.gov/water; Committee Staff: firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-444-1640
Committee mailing address:Water Policy Interim Committee Capitol Building, room 171D P.O. Box 201704 Helena, MT 59620-1704
Framework of improvements to water right ownership updates:
The Legislative News.