As it enters its 40th year, the future of the Montana Water Court is unclear

News Type: State Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle
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The Montana Water Court could soon reach a turning point once all its old water rights cases are settled.

But experts say that won’t be the end of the state’s water disputes. That’s why some lawmakers and lobbyists support mandating an interim study that will examine the future of the Montana Water Court and finding a place for its judges and staff, who are steeped in water rights law. House Joint Resolution 14 requests such a study, with its findings to be presented to the 67th Legislature in 2021.

“This is the first time I ever presented a water bill where I had no opponents,” said Rep. Bradley Hamlett, D-Cascade, the resolution’s sponsor, during a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee on Feb. 18. “This is the right time, I believe, to discuss this issue, to parse it back and forth, and to come to some determination of what we need to do now, so we’re not caught flat-footed in the future.”