The Water Policy Interim Committee (WPIC) seeks public comment on a third piece of legislation, which is related to water right ownership updates.

The legislation proposes to:

  • Limit the use of geocodes by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC)
  • Require deeds or other conveyance documents for certain transfers ownership updates
  • Set a deadline for DNRC to process transfers ownership updates
  • Allow the DNRC to set rules for requiring "correct and complete" transfers ownership update forms
  • Limit when the DNRC may change a water rights record
  • Require the DNRC to transfer a water right without the ownership update fee in certain circumstances
  • Increase the penalty for failure to comply with ownership update requirements and provide for recovery of collections costs and fees by the DNRC

The committee may preintroduce the proposed legislation for the 2021 session. This bill—and three reports and two other potential committee bills—are available for review on the WPIC’s website, Comments may be sent to the WPIC at P.O. Box 201704, Helena, MT 59620-1704, or emailed to with the subject line, “Public comments for WPIC reports/bills.”

All comments received by 5 p.m. on Sept. 10 will be compiled for the WPIC prior to its Sept. 14-15 meeting. Comments received after the deadline will be provided to the WPIC at or after the meeting. Comments are welcome in person at the meeting as well. An agenda and other meeting materials for the September meeting will be made available on the WPIC’s web site approximately two weeks in prior to the 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).

The Legislative News.