The Montana Senate's Natural Resources Committee is considering approving SB 19, a bill supported by realtors and developers that codifies a detrimental loophole in the state's groundwater permitting system. This loophole allows unlimited use of so-called "exempt" groundwater wells, which individually cannot exceed 30 gallons per minute or 10-acre-feet-a year. SB 19 allows developers to escape state review of the effects of large-scale groundwater use in new subdivisions - which occurs when they use large, easily monitored centralized wells -- by sanctioning the clustering of an UNLIMITED number of exempt wells. The cumulative effect of developments with many exempt wells can reduce groundwater recharge of connected trout streams. The loophole also can harm irrigators with senior water rights in connected streams that are already over-used, which is why agricultural groups also oppose the bill.
Contact key members on the Natural Resources Committee TODAY and tell them to oppose SB 19 because:
- It sanctions unlimited use of groundwater without any determination of how it will affect senior water right holders, such as local irrigators.
- It will result in depletions of local streams where existing users already have water rights.
- It will reduce streamflows in important fisheries.
- Reasonable alternatives have been offered that ensure future groundwater development can occur but on an orderly basis without loopholes that can harm existing users.
Those members are:
Jennifer Fielder (Thomsan Falls) firstname.lastname@example.org
Brad Hamlett (Cascade) email@example.com
Verdell Jackson (Kalispell) firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed Walker (Billings) email@example.com
Matt Rosendale (Glendive) firstname.lastname@example.org
Cliff Larsen (Missoula) email@example.com
Rick Ripley (Wolf Creek) Ripleys@3riversdbs.net
To email these Senators all at once click here for a link (you will be redirected to montanatu.org for the link)
Call the legislative switchboard at 406-444-4800 and leave them a message.
If you are a constituent of one of these legislators, please let them know.
For more information, contact:
Laura Ziemer at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mark Aagenes at email@example.com.
Stay informed! Get involved! For information about issues affecting trout and their watersheds, check out Montana Trout Unlimited at montanatu.org or on FaceBook and Twitter @MontanaTU.