Lake, Sanders commissioners balk at CSKT water compact provisions

The Lake County Commissioners are doubling down on their opposition to a proposed bill that would ratify the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes water compact.

Montana’s two U.S. senators, Jon Tester and Steve Daines, are co-sponsoring a bill, the Montana Water Rights Protection Act, that would ratify the water compact at the federal level. It would provide funding to rehabilitate the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project, a sprawling, century-old network of canals and dams to the south and west of Flathead Lake.

This area includes both Lake and Sanders counties. Their commissioners do not have a formal role in the ratification process, but they have denounced the proposed settlement bill in recent weeks. A main target of their ire: the rights-of-way involved in repairing and servicing the project.