Rhonda Swaney

Today we continue our coverage of the proposed water compact negotiated by the federal government, the state of Montana, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The compact itself is expected to be over a thousand pages long; it’s still being drafted. The road to this point stretches back over 35 years of negotiations. And it’s clear from the reaction to our coverage that people have strong feelings about it.

An attorney for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes says the latest compact governing tribal water rights has a better chance of passing the state legislature, than one that was rejected two years ago. 

Rhonda Swaney, says the biggest single improvement in the latest version of the tribe’s water compact with the state and federal governments is in its timing. The previous version was just introduced too late in the legislative session for lawmakers to deal with, she says.

Flickr, Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ

More are calling for a re-opening of negotiations on the Flathead Water Compact, soon possibly including the state commission which helped craft the compact.

But the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes are holding firm with the current version.

The CSKT have been working on this agreement with the state and federal governments and private irrigators for at least a dozen years. It would settle disputes over how water is shared on the Flathead reservation.