Written by The Herald-News
The Montana Legislature, in recognition of increasing demands on our state's limited water resources, directed the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to transform the current State Water Plan into a dynamic guide that will be responsive to the varying needs of residents and water managers in four major river basins: Clark Fork, Yellowstone, Upper Missouri, and Lower Missouri.
Before a plan is crafted, an advisory council of volunteers will be appointed in each of the basins to ensure that all constituents with an interest in water use have an opportunity to participate in the crucial first step of identifying issues that should be addressed in the plan.
The ultimate goals of the process, known as the Montana Water Supply Initiative, are to document current supply and demand for water; estimate increases in demand for water; identify possible sources of water to meet those demands while protecting existing beneficial uses; and make recommendations to the 2015 Montana Legislature on alternatives for meeting future water needs.
DNRC staff members responsible for implementing the Montana Water Supply Initiative recognize that the BACs must serve as a strong foundation for the entire process, because a plan that lacks public support is not likely to serve any useful purpose.
The Lower Missouri River BAC will include representatives from as many basin geographical areas and water interests as possible. The Lower Missouri River Basin includes all watersheds that empty into the Missouri River from the confluence of the Marias River downstream to the North Dakota border.
Members are being solicited from agricultural producer associations, irrigation districts, water user associations, petroleum organizations, real estate interests, economic development councils, recreational user and sportsmen organizations, watershed groups, conservation districts, counties, cities, tribes and others.
The deadline for application is Aug. 21.
Members of the BAC will be expected to attend a number of meetings within the basin and will be reimbursed for travel expenses.