Collaborating to Create Change that Works.
Montana is at a crossroads of new opportunities in water management and administration. We need to protect existing uses while still ensuring reliable supplies for growing communities and economies. The Comprehensive Water Review is the evaluation and reformation of state water administration undertaken by the Department to meet future water needs and protect existing users in the state of Montana. The Stakeholder Working Group is a facilitated forum for the Department to work alongside stakeholders on developing policy reforms for priority issues. 

Stakeholder Working Group July Meeting Information

Stakeholder Working Group Meeting

July 9, 2024: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Montana Room - DNRC Headquarters, Helena, MT

Zoom registration link for online participation

Meeting agenda

Note: fall meeting dates added! Do you have questions for the Stakeholder Working Group or suggestions about how to make the process more accessible? Missed a meeting? Recordings and documents from each meeting are available to get you caught up.
2023-24 Meeting Schedule Email Us! Meetings and Materials

HB 114 News: New Tools and Training

Comprehensive Water Review followers are familiar with HB 114. The bill was passed by the 2023 Legislature to overhaul the water right permit and change application process and promote fast timelines, consistent process, transparent technical analyses, and predicable outcomes. The new process went into effect on January 1, 2024.

Learn More

In addition to changes relevant to applicants, the legislation also included changes to the public notice and objection process: 

  • For applications filed after January 1, DNRC will publish a draft Preliminary Determination, triggering a 30-day public comment period.
  • If public comments are received, DNRC will address the comments and then notice the Preliminary Determination for a 30-day objection period on issues raised during public comment.

Given these more compressed timelines, DNRC has developed a new tool for getting information about water rights applications to interested stakeholders quickly: the Water Rights Notification Tool (WRNT). The WRNT allows users to customize what types of applications they want to be notified about by source type, basin, and county. The tool then sends email alerts when any application within the selected parameters reaches key milestones for public participation.

Sign up for the WRNT

2023-24 Sub-Working Groups

The members of the Stakeholder Working Group have divided into sub-working groups to dig deep on the priority issues and develop options and recommendations for the path forward. Each sub-working group will periodically present its progress to the main Stakeholder Working Group. The entire Stakeholder Working Group will ultimately need to vote or reach consensus to move any sub-working group recommendation forward.

Visit the sub-working groups’ pages to learn when they are meeting, what they are discussing, what information they are reviewing, and what work products they are generating.

Links to the Final Decree Transition and Exempt Wells, Planning, and Growth sub-working group pages

Final Decree Transition

Exempt Wells, Water Planning, and Growth

A list of the members of the Stakeholder Working Group

Introducing the 2023-24 Stakeholder Working Group

Abby Brown (Water Attorney)

Alan Olson (Industrial)

Andrew Gorder (Conservation)

Arnold Bighorn (Tribal)

Brian Heaston (Municipal)

Clayton Elliot (Recreation)

Spencer Woith (Domestic and New Development)

Jan Thomson-Rouse (Hydropower)

Jocelyn Cahill (Irrigation)

Julie Merritt (Water Consultant)

Kelly Lynch (Municipal)

Krista Lee Evans (Irrigation)

Mark Taylor (Domestic and New Development)

Nicole Rolf (Stock Water)

Raylee Honeycutt (Stock Water)

Ryan McLane (Water Attorney)

Vicki Baker (Irrigation)



Key Challenges of the Comprehensive Water Review

Comprehensive Water Review Background

After nearly 50 years of implementation and targeted adjustments, the Water Use Act and associated regulations and policies need 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 and consistent administrative processes, improved customer service, responsible and innovative development, and efficient administration of Montana’s water resources. The results of this effort must also uphold the core principles of the Water Use Act for current and future water appropriators. This review of water right administration and management requires significant stakeholder input and a comprehensive look so that Montana can meet its water needs of the 21st Century.

In 2021, DNRC’s Water Rights Division (WRD) set out to listen and learn from Montana water users in order to comprehensively evaluate and reform state water administration while also upholding the core principles of the Water Use Act for current and future appropriators. With input from hundreds of members of the public, WRD identified and prioritized key challenges that we must address to ensure streamlined and consistent administrative processes, improved customer service, and responsible and innovative development of Montana’s water resources.

Learn More about the Comprehensive Water Review

In 2022, WRD formed two Stakeholder Working Groups to tackle priority challenges through intensive, constructive, and deliberative dialogue. The extraordinary dedication of the Stakeholder Working Group members produced two bills introduced in the 2023 session, both sponsored by DNRC. 

Learn More about the 2022 Stakeholder Working Groups

Public participation is critical to the success of the Comprehensive Water Review and the Stakeholder Working Group, and we are grateful to hear your input and concerns. Do you have questions or feedback for the Stakeholder Working Group or suggestions for how we can make public engagement more meaningful and accessible? Email us!