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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
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Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission and Compact Implementation

River in Sanders County

Water Rights Negotiations - A Settlement Process

The 1979 Montana Legislature established the Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission (RWRCC) as part of the state-wide general stream adjudication process to negotiate settlements with Montana Indian tribes and federal agencies claiming reserved water rights within the State of Montana.

The RWRCC's mission was to conclude compacts for the equitable division and apportionment of waters between:

  • the State of Montana, its people and the several Indian tribes claiming reserved water rights within the state (MCA 85-2-701), and
  • the State, its people and the federal government claiming non-Indian reserved water within the state (MCA 85-2-703).

Eighteen reserved water right compacts have been negotiated and ratified by the Montana Legislature including seven Montana Indian reservations, national parks, forests and wildlife refuges, and federally designated wild and scenic rivers.

Public Involvement

Citizen participation was an essential element of each settlement negotiation. It ensured the RWRCC’s deliberations on Montana’s behalf addressed the concerns of the public and incorporated legal solutions to water use problems. Public meetings were held throughout each negotiation process and further opportunity for public comment existed when the settlements were presented to the Montana Legislature for approval.

The RWRCC has no active appointments as all commenced negotiations have been settled into eighteen respective compacts. DNRC professional staff work on implementation of compacts. Contact the following DNRC staff members for assistance: 

Water Management Bureau: Compact Implementation Section

Water Resource Specialist, Section Supervisor – Arne Wick


Water Resource Specialist – Joel Harris


Surface Water Hydrologist  Ethan Mace




Contact Address


Dept. of Natural Resources & Conservation/RWRCC

1424 Ninth Avenue

Helena, MT 59620-1601