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Discussions held on reopening water compact talks

By The Associated Press
Published On: Mar 18 2014 04:51:03 PM MDT
HELENA, Mont. -

The chairman of the Montana Reserve Water Rights Commission says discussions have been held on reopening negotiations for a water-rights compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to include protections for irrigators living on or near the Flathead reservation.

Chris Tweeten said Tuesday the dissolution of the Flathead Joint Board of Control created uncertainty around a proposed agreement on how to allocate water used in the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project.

The water-use agreement was an appendix to the larger Flathead water-rights compact, and Tweeten says negotiations would be to incorporate it into the body of the compact.

But it is unclear whether the dispute over the rights and allocation of water can be resolved out of court. Four lawsuits have been filed since the Legislature rejected the agreement last year.