DNRC Rescinds Municipal Water Right Guidance To Ease Burden On Municipalities
November 16, 2022 | View PDF
Helena, MT - The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation announced the rescission of a 2014 memo intended to provide guidance on changes in use for municipal water rights.
“After reviewing the memo and its implementation over the last six years, we have determined that the memo is restrictive in how it directs historical use to be calculated and does not account in full for the variety of ways municipalities can produce historical use information,” said Nate Ward, Water Rights Bureau Chief.
The Guidance for Municipal Purposes and Water Rights memo was examined by a stakeholder working group as part of the Comprehensive Water Review undertaken by the Department to identify areas for improvement within water rights application processing.
One of the recommendations from the working group was that the Department consider rescinding the memo.
The purpose of the memo was to provide general guidance on changes in use for municipal use water rights through an explanation of the basic elements of a municipal use water right, the type of information required in a change application, and sources for information that may facilitate proof of the criteria. However, the Department found that the memo did not provide any specific benefit during the change application process for a municipal water right.
“Our team in water rights carefully reviewed the recommendation of the stakeholder working group and determined that rescinding the memo will not have any adverse effects on municipalities that wish to change water rights,” said Ward. “We believe rescinding the memo will reduce restrictions on calculation of historical use for municipalities.”
Rescission of the memo under the Comprehensive Water Review is part of the Department’s efforts to implement Governor Gianforte’s Red Tape Relief Initiative.
Municipalities are still required to follow the rules addressing historical use described in § ARM 36.12.1902, MCA when filing for a water right change.