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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
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Stakeholder Engagement


Background:

  • Montana is at the crossroads of water policy: we are facing increasing demands of new water use with increases in population and expanding economies; there is a need to protect water supplies and the industries and communities they support; increases in drought occurrences are exacerbating supply and demand imbalances; and after nearly forty years of the general statewide water right adjudication, some basins will see final decrees within the next year.
  • After almost 50 years of implementation and piecemeal adjustments, the Water Use Act needs a comprehensive review to ensure that Water Administration and Management is serving the current and future water needs of Montana. Benefits of this review include streamlined administrative processes, improved customer service, and responsible and innovative development and administration of Montana’s water resources. This comprehensive review of water right administration and management requires significant stakeholder input and a holistic look so that Montana can meet its water needs of the 21st Century.


Plan:

  • Under Governor Gianforte’s leadership and direction, the State, through DNRC’s Water Resources Division, is actively undertaking a comprehensive evaluation and reform of state water administration with diverse stakeholders’ input front and center in the decision-making. By the end of next biennium, the Governor’s Office and the DNRC will have worked with stakeholders to identify and prioritize the Key Water Administration and Management Challenges that Montana faces; identified recommendations to address these Key Challenges; and made significant progress to address DNRC-specific Water Administration and Management Challenges.


Timelines: 

    1.  Phase 1: Initial Input/Scoping Phase (COMPLETED)

    • Stakeholders provided feedback on agency regulatory reforms as part of the Governor’s Red Tape Initiative (EO 1-2021).
    • WRD conducted an internal evaluation and hosted three stakeholder scoping meetings with water user groups to identify the Key Water Management and Administration Challenges.


    2.  Phase 2: Report on Key Water Challenges and proposed Action Plans (IN PROGRESS)

    • Based on stakeholder input received in Phase 1, WRD is summarizing the Key Water Challenges and will be proposing draft Action Plans to address each challenge.
    • WRD will solicit stakeholder feedback on the draft Key Water Challenges and Action Plans (stay tuned for more information).


    3.  Phase 3: Implementation of Action Plans (2022)

    • Working with stakeholders, WRD will facilitate the implementation of Action Plans through a variety of methods as appropriate (e.g., convene additional stakeholder committees, adopt certain technologies, hire outside consultants, develop data tracking and reports, initiate rulemaking, and developing legislative concepts).

      
    4.  Phase 4: Final Recommendations

    • The Governor’s Office and WRD will present progress made on Action Plans, major findings, and recommendations at the DNRC Water Summit (Fall/Winter 2022) in preparation for the upcoming Legislative Session.


    Activities, Meetings, and Materials

    Date What Materials/Links
    Open through July 31, 2021 Water Processes Stakeholder Outreach Survey
    [closed July 31]
    June 15, 2021 Existing Users Meeting Meeting Summary
    Meeting Recording (audio)

    June 17, 2021 In-Stream Flow Meeting Meeting Summary
    Meeting Recording (video)
    June 23, 2021 New Users Meeting Meeting Summary
    Meeting Recording (video)
    June 30, 2021 Water Rights Processing Factsheet Spring 2021

    If unable to view recordings use Edge or Firefox browsers.

    Public Comment

    Were you able to attend one of the three initial listening sessions in June and want to share your thoughts with us? Did you miss the meetings but would still like to provide comments and feedback? Here’s your chance! We have two ways for you to share: The first is our stakeholder survey [closed July 31]  with specific questions on our resources and processes; or, you can provide general feedback by submitting comments here. We thank you in advance and look forward to hearing from you.


    Stay Connected

    We are currently working on different avenues for individuals, partners, and stakeholders to stay engaged with the Water Resources Division. Please bookmark this page and check back for additional updates and new ways to connect with the program. We also invite you to sign up for email announcements here.