... and of protecting water rights
Montana State Roundups
Published March 1, 2006 | March 2006 issue
This spring, more than 100,000 water users in the state will reach into their pockets to expedite the long-delayed process of examining water rights claims.
Legislation passed last year requires individuals to pay $20 per water right every two years for the next 10 years—their share of the cost of adjudicating water rights, a process started in the early 1980s but never completed. Issuing water rights decrees, which establish historic water usage, will help the state fend off demands for river water from downstream states and assist in land use planning.
Over the decades, many sellers have failed to file the paperwork necessary to transfer water rights to new property owners.
The result: a bureaucratic Gordian knot that the state must untangle. The adjudication fees will bring in an estimated $3 million a year to speed up the process of examining about 53,000 outstanding water rights claims.