Two Perspectives on the New CSKT Water Compact

Aaron Flint posted on December 19, 2014 13:38 :: 1324 Views

Dave Skinner says the discussion over the newly revised CSKT water compact could be even more contentious than the budget itself in the upcoming session of the Montana Legislature. 

That being said, here’s a couple different viewpoints. 

One view, via MTPR.orgThe New Flathead Water Compact Explained

Deputy Attorney General Cory Swanson was involved in the latest round of talks on the new Flathead water compact, and he thinks this latest version will pass muster with irrigators who were concerned the previous version would leave them without the water they need.

Swanson says several things about the new agreement make it a good deal for irrigators and the tribe. The compact has to satisfy farmers’ and ranchers’ need for water, as well as the tribes’ need to access their traditional fishing grounds. To make sure everybody has enough water, the tribes and the state agreed to an “adaptive management process” that begins with ten years of  study.

The new compact also guarantees growers a supply of low-cost electricity to run their irrigation pumps.  The tribes will sell the electricity at favorable rates from the Kerr hydroelectric dam, which the tribes will own in full as of September 15.

Another view, via Dave Skinner for The Flathead BeaconEquitable Division; The tribal water issue – along with many others – has festered for over a century

As some of you know, in June the CSKT Council paid $22,000 to a PAC founded by Kalispell state Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, for “mail-outs for the primary election.” Tutvedt told the council there was “a plan in place how to fix that 60-vote problem in the House” and “if my guys win we’re going to bring the compact in early in the session.”

However, the vote approving the check was only 5-4. CSKT tribal council member Carole Lankford said she was happy to “step up and take on a challenge and battle that could cost us up to a billion dollars over the years. If we can do something now, why not?” But nay-voting council member Leonard Two Teeth stated, “I strongly oppose,” with opposed Patty Stevens adding “I want something to explain to the membership what we just did.”

If some council members are uncomfortable with playing PAC games in hopes of speeding compact passage and a stunning billion-dollar final bonanza, it could be they are as uncomfortable with the compact as their neighbors.


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