Letter: Oppose exemption for multiple wells – Billings Gazette, March 12, 2017

March 13, 2017

Categories: Agriculture, Clean Water, Landowner Rights, Legislature, Letters, News

House Bill 339, which is being considered in the Legislature, revises the current laws related to exempt appropriations of water. It is disappointing this bill completely ignores the 2016 Supreme Court ruling invalidating the “exempt well loophole.” Instead, it changes the language that the court rejected and will allow the drilling of multiple exempt wells with no consideration for aquifer draw down, stream flows, or senior water rights that are important to all of us, especially the ranching and farming communities.

HB339 will be a return to the 1993 Montana groundwater management with one caveat, a spacing requirement, between wells. While spacing may sound scientific, it doesn’t provide the necessary hydrological evaluation so critical when considering properties with multiple wells. Those with senior water rights should be outraged by HB339. It is not in compliance with the Montana Water Use Act, ignores the prior appropriations doctrine and has no place with respect to responsible management of Montana’s water resources, now or in the future.

If you want to keep your long-held critical water rights, contact your representatives and ask them not to support this bill.

Charles Sangmeister


220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154