City misappropriating water from wildlife habitat

City misappropriating water from wildlife habitat

News Type: State Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle
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My Oct. 15 letter to the editor described Bozeman’s plans to take more water from Lyman Creek, jeopardizing the wildlife habitat and damaging downstream water users. Since then we have continued to look further into the city’s water rights, existing usage and future plans to increase diversions from Lyman Creek. In the course of this research we discovered several disturbing facts:

1) The City’s Lyman Creek water rights are surface rights, yet since 1991 the city has utilized developed springs, which the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) classifies as groundwater, for its diversions.

2) The city installed a new point of diversion, also a developed spring, in 2008 without seeking DNRC approval or assessing the adverse impact to the stream or other water rights.

3) The city currently diverts more than its water rights allow at certain times of the year.

4) Proposed changes will increase the city’s Lyman Creek water consumption well beyond what is already perfected.

We raised these concerns with the city to no avail. Accordingly, we have filed a complaint with DNRC, and will seek to enforce Montana’s prior appropriation doctrine (the set of laws governing water use). We are troubled that the city, which ultimately answers to the people, believes the unauthorized use of a public resource, and lack of responsiveness to a neighbor’s concerns, are acceptable.

If you would like to access a copy of the complaint, my prior letter or learn more about Lyman Creek, please visit As in my prior letter, we must ask how we preserve Bozeman’s quality of life in the face of growth? If destroying a pristine trout spawning creek while turning a blind eye to the laws of our state is so easy, what’s next?