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Weakened Water Law

Water Allocation Law now takes Precedence over Environment

Montana State Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), Water Rights Division, recently granted a water use permit to a Hutterite colony on the Marias River to irrigate 957 acres of alfalfa and barley. DNRC said the Marias River water should be allocated at levels set by water use law and not based on biological needs of fish and the river's viability. The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks had requested the colony not be permitted unless flows adequately sustained fish habitat. A bill passed by the destructive 2001 Legislature so weakened the Montana State Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) that water allocation now takes precedence over environmental assessments based on MEPA. ~

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