Farm Bureau Joins DNRC in Water Rights Case


The following is a press release from the Montana Farm Bureau Federation:

BOZEMAN, Dec. 1, 2011 – Today, the Montana Farm Bureau filed an amicus brief with the Montana Supreme Court in ‘Town of Manhattan versus the Department of Natural Resources of the State of Montana (DNRC).’ The Town of Manhattan feels they can use all of the water they want for municipal reasons, taking precedent over even senior water rights. The DNRC won the case in District Court, and that has now been appealed by Manhattan. Also filing in support of the Montana DNRC is the Montana Water Resources Association (MRWA) and PPL Montana.

“Manhattan is citing the ‘Growing Cities Doctrine’ as the reason they should be able to use as much water as they need, regardless of how that affects senior water rights,” notes Montana Farm Bureau’s Vice President of Governmental Affairs John Youngberg.  “In essence, it prioritizes the use of water, giving municipalities priority over all other water uses regardless of priority dates.  This is a major concern for agriculture producers who have most of the senior water rights in the state.”

Youngberg explains why MFBF and MWRA filed amicus briefs in the case. “The members of Montana Farm Bureau and Montana Water Resources Association own existing water rights, and therefore, both organizations have a direct interest in ensuring that their members’ water rights are protected and vindicated.  PPLM has a direct interest due to its ownership of existing water rights and its efforts to protect those rights.  If the Town of Manhattan’s position that municipalities are not limited by actual beneficial use and can expand their water rights as their populations increase is upheld, the water rights of the moving parties and all other water right holders will be seriously diminished.”  

“If the Supreme Court overturns this case, it could set a dangerous precedent for the entire state and negatively affect the value of agricultural water rights into perpetuity,” Youngberg concluded.


Source:  Montana Farm Bureau Federation

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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