Tribal Reserved Water Rights Negotiations

The proposed CSKT-Montana Compact is the result of more than a decade of negotiations to resolve the Tribes claims to reserved rights within the State. The 2013 Legislature did not ratify a prior version of the Compact. Following a request for a limited reopening of negotiations by Governor Bullock in early 2014, the State and Tribes negotiated key provisions relating to irrigation use and instream flows on the Reservation and incorporated recommendations from the Montana Water Policy Interim Committee following two years of review.

On December 10, 2014, the negotiating parties reached an agreement that fulfills the State’s legal obligation to recognize the CSKT’s reserved rights and simultaneously provides protection for existing uses on and off the Reservation. The Compact will make new water available for commercial and irrigation use, end the water administration void on the Flathead Reservation, allow for economic development under conditions of legal certainty on and off the Reservation, and facilitate the completion of the statewide general stream adjudication. In addition, the Compact would establish a technical team with irrigator representation to implement irrigation project upgrades to protect historic irrigation use and meet Tribal in-stream flow targets.

On January 12, 2015, the Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission unanimously voted to forward the proposed CSKT Compact to the 2015 Legislature. Legislative information will be posted on this site as it becomes available.

The CSKT Compact has passed the state legislature. More information can be found here.