Montana Trout Unlimited
Legislative Action Alert 
Montana Trout Unlimited
25 February 2013

Tell your Montana House member TODAY to oppose HB 561, which sanctions unlimited use of groundwater sources that are critical for recharging trout streams.





The Montana House is considering HB 561, sponsored by Rep. Steve Fitzpatrick (R-Great Falls) and supported by Realtors and developers. It expands a detrimental loophole in the state's groundwater permitting system. This loophole, which Montana TU has been trying to close for several years, currently allows unlimited use of so called "exempt" ground water wells. Exempt wells are those that do not produce more than 30 gallons per minute or 10-acre-feet per year.  They are exempt from any permits or evaluation of their individual and cumulative impacts on nearby trout streams and senior water rights. HB 561 codifies a scheme that would allow developers to cluster an infinite number of exempt wells in subdivisions so that large-scale depletion of groundwater sources that recharge streams would not be evaluated by state officials or subject to permits.


The cumulative effect of developments with many exempt wells can result in less groundwater for connected trout streams that already suffer from seasonal dewatering. 


Take Action


Contact  YOUR House member TODAY and tell him or her to oppose HB 561 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 and exist that ensure future groundwater development can occur in Montana but on an orderly basis without further harming streams or existing users. 
If you know who your Montana House Representative is, click here to find his or her email;


Call the legislative switchboard at (406) 444-4800 and leave a message.

If you know your House District but not your Representative, click here for a list of Representatives by House District. 

If you don't know your House District or who your Representative is, click here to find him or her.


For more information, contact Mark Aagenes at


Stay informed! Get involved!  For information about issues affecting trout and their watersheds, check out Montana Trout Unlimited at or on FaceBook and Twitter @MontanaTU.  


Thank you!


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phone: 406-543-0054
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