Flathead Basin Commission gets an overview of the CSKT Water Rights Compact

Flathead Basin Commission gets an overview of the CSKT Water Rights Compact

News Type: State, Regional, Federal Source: Char-Koosta News
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The process for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Federal Reserved Water Rights Compact has seemed to flow like molasses exposed to a harsh Hi-Line winter. Now finally after more than two decades of negotiations the CSKT RWRC that passed state and tribal muster now awaits the approval signature of the U.S. Congress then it’s implementation time.

Federal reserved water rights were created when the U.S. Supreme Court made the decision in the case Winters vs. United States (206 U.S. 564[1908]) about a Fort Belknap Indian Reservation water claim. In the Winters decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided when the U.S. Congress or the President of the United States sets aside land out of the public domain for a specific purpose, such as an Indian reservation, national park or national forest, a quantity of water is reserved based on the amount necessary to fulfill the specific federal purpose. A federal reserved water right has a priority date of the date the land was withdrawn from public domain and the reservation was created. The water rights cannot be lost through non-use.

Quantification, or the determination of the size of a federal reserved water right for the state adjudication process, requires the RWRC Commission to reach an understanding with the federal agency holding the water right about the purpose for which the federal reservation was created.