Mont. bill would allow water leasing to O&G development

Posted: Apr 3, 2013

Written by

Karl Puckett, Great Falls Tribune
Oil pump

Water rights could be temporarily leased to oil developers or other users under a bill meant to help meet soaring demand for water resulting from the oil development in northeastern Montana. The bill also is aimed at preventing illegal use of water and protecting other water users as water demand rises.

Currently, if water rights holders want to change the designated use of their appropriation it involves a time-consuming and costly process, said Rep. Bill McChesney, D-Miles City, the sponsor of House Bill 37. And users can lose their senior water rights through that process.

McChesney’s bill would allow water rights holders to lease water for a different use for up to two years, without losing their senior rights. For example, a farmer with a water right for a particular piece of land could decide not to irrigate and lease access to the water for a different kind of use.


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