Every house needs water. Where that water comes from, how it gets there and who makes those decisions will be explained to the Legislature’s Water Policy Interim Committee in January.
The committee is studying wells that pump less than 35 gallons per minute and yield less than 10 acre-feet of water a year. Unlike larger wells, no permit is required for an exempt well. Thousands of exempt wells exist around the state for various uses including domestic, stock, and irrigation. Some argue that the cumulative effect of exempt withdrawals may be impairing senior water rights. The issue is considered particularly relevant to eastern Montana communities where new subdivisions are forming and communities are looking at annexation, which generally includes a yielding of water rights for small wells.
Supplying water to subdivisions is one of the panels featured at the WPIC meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. January 10 through January 11. For those in the far eastern part of the state the meeting will be streamed from http://www.leg.mt.gov. Meeting materials are also available at that location.
Additional agenda items include a presentation by the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology examining exempt well development in areas studied by the Ground Water Investigation Program.
Other items before the panel include management of the Missouri River and an update from the Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission.
Prior to the meeting, the interim committee is still soliciting ideas from the public and there will be an opportunity at the meeting for anyone with an idea to explain it to the committee.
The agenda and more information can be found at www.leg.mt.gov/water . Comments can be sent to Joe Kolman, committee staff, at email@example.com.