The Roundup -

Does Exempt Water Rights Bill Apply to You?

Thursday, March 1, 2:30 p.m.


February 28, 2018 | View PDF

Jim Beck will be speaking at the MonDak Ag Days and Trade Show on Thursday, March 1st at 2:30 p.m. MST. He will be speaking on the topic, “Does Exempt Water Rights Bill Apply to You?”

Beck was raised and farmed in McCone and Richland Counties. He attended Montana State University in Bozeman, receiving a degree in agricultural engineering. In 1981, he moved to Townsend and worked at the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Helena Regional Office. At the Helena Regional Office, he worked in several water resource areas, including water rights. Jim has been a member of the Broadwater Conservation District for 26 years and has been the District’s representative on the Missouri River Conservation Council since the Council’s inception. Since his retirement in 2011, he has worked on water resource projects for the conservation district and the City of Townsend. For the past 20 years, he has been an instructor for the State’s water commissioner training program.

He will be discussing which water rights qualify as exempt claim filings. He will cover a bit of history leading to current exempt claims filing opportunity. Beck will also cover the resources available for water users to determine if they have exempt existing water rights, if they or their predecessors have filed on those rights, and a brief introduction on how to work with a consultant. The presentation directs water users to resources available from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) and other agencies that will help them to complete the exempt claim forms. A list of the DNRC’s water resources regional offices will be provided so that water users can contact DNRC with specific questions.

“Several months ago all Montana landowners received a form to file for Exempt Claimed Water Rights. This is an important opportunity to file on rights for livestock drinking directly from natural water sources, and domestic and stock water wells put to use before July 1, 1973. These sources of water are often vital to farming and ranching enterprises, but are also found in urban locations,” said Beck. His presentation will discuss the exempt claim filings in more detail along with a brief history of their origin. It will outline the ramifications of the loss of priority date if the filings are not made. There will also be conversation about how to search for previous water right filings, resources for completing the claim forms, and what to expect from a consultant.

Beck’s goal for the project is to reach as many water users, primarily rural people, to make them aware of the opportunity to file exempt claims for instream stock water rights and groundwater developments for domestic and stock water that were in use before July 1, 1973. “Additionally, it is important for water users to understand the benefits of filing on any qualifying water rights by June 30, 2019,” explained Beck.

The information Beck will be presenting will increase water users’ understanding of exempt claims and the filing process. It will make listeners aware of the benefits of making the filings. Basics of how to research water rights that have been filed and how to compare them to the potential exempt claims will be covered. Beck will also discuss some common pitfalls that may be encountered in the exempt claim process.


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