For Immediate Release - August 25, 2000
Anastasia Burton / Governor's Office 444-5523
Jack Stults / DNRC 444-6605 or 442-0971
Kathleen Williams / FWP 444-3888 or 449-0657
(Helena)---Governor Marc Racicot today issued an emergency executive order to allow Montana water-right holders to bypass reams of redtape to keep water flowing in streams to help Montana's wild fish survive the effects of the prolonged drought of 2000.
Under current law, if water-right holders do not exhaust the water they are permitted to use, the left over water flows downstream for another's use. Gov. Racicot's order eliminates a year-long permitting process that can circumvent the "use it or lose it law" to save Montana's wild fisheries at no cost to the water user. Senior water users will still retain their priority date, be able to call for water from upstream junior users, and protect water from being diverted by downstream junior users.
"Under this order, a water user simply has to file an application with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the authorization will be automatic," Racicot said. "Montana's trout streams are populated with wild, naturally reproducing fish. We're hoping that this order invites water uses to keep as much water as possible in our streams to ensure the survival of this important natural resource."
Applications may be obtained and filed at any regional DNRC office. The local regional manager issues the authorization. Authorization may be issued at the time of the application, Racicot said.
The emergency order is valid until November 1. The owner of the water right may cancel the change at any time and go back to the original water use. This streamlined option is available to any water right holder in any county under a "severe drought" designation from the Governor's Drought Advisory Committee (visit http://nris.state.mt.us/wis/Swsi/MTDroughtAlerts.html#Severe).
DNRC and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is available to assist appropriators with this option, and with the normal process after the order expires.
For additional information, contact one of the following DNRC Regional Offices, or FWP staff as noted below:
Billings - 406-247-4415
(Serves Big Horn, Carbon, Carter, Custer, Fallon, Powder River, Prairie, Rosebud, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Treasure, and Yellowstone Counties)
Bozeman - 406-586-3136
(Serves Gallatin, Madison, and Park Counties)
Glasgow - 406-228-2561
(Serves Daniels, Dawson, Garfield, McCone, Phillips, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Valley, and Wibaux Counties)
Havre - 406- 265-5516
(Serves Blaine, Chouteau, Glacier, Hill, Liberty, Pondera, Teton, and Toole Counties)
Helena - 406-449-0944
(Serves Beaverhead, Broadwater, Deer Lodge, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Powell, and Silver Bow Counties)
Kalispell - 406-752-2288
(Serves Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, and Sanders Counties)
Lewistown - 406-538-7459
(Serves Cascade, Fergus, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Meagher, Musselshell, Petroleum, and Wheatland Counties)
Missoula - 406-721-4284
(Serves Granite, Mineral, Missoula, and Ravalli Counties)