Montana Water Summit


Water is a critical resource for all Montanans – and it’s limited.

Like other states across the West, Montana is experiencing earlier spring runoff, declining snowpack, recurrent drought, a burgeoning outdoor tourism and recreation economy, and ever-increasing demands for clean, available water.

Building on the knowledge and experience of past state water policy leaders, the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment, and information regarding the state’s changing demographics and shifting economy, the Montana Water Summit will:

–        Highlight the impacts from these well-documented pressures on the state’s water resources (quantity and quality)

–        Examine water policy and management challenges at the quality/quantity nexus

–        Present transferrable case studies of adaptation across water use sectors

–        Foster a statewide, multidisciplinary discussion about Montana’s water future



Monday, March 5




5 – 8                    Welcome ReceptionTen Mile Creek Brewing (48 N. Last Chance Gulch, Helena)


Tuesday, March 6


7:30                     Check-inNo same-day registration (Hallway outside Grand Ballroom)


Water in the West: Setting the stage and examining impacts to Montana’s water quality and quantity from a changing climate, population growth, and a shifting economy.


8:30                     Welcome and Opening Remarks

§  Ann Schwend and Sara Meloy, Water Planners, MT DNRC

§  Lt. Governor Mike Cooney, Chair, Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee

§  Chief Earl Old Person, Blackfeet Tribe  


9:10                     Water in the West – Leon Szeptycki, Professor, Director of the Water in the West program, Stanford



9:30                     Water and Climate in Montana Marco Maneta, Associate Professor of Hydrology and Hydrologic Modeling, University of Montana


9:50                     Break    (Capitol/State Rooms)


10:10                   Montana Water Use and Development: A Recent History – John Tubbs, Director, Montana DNRC


10:30                   Montana and a Changing Economy – Patty Gude, Associate Director, Headwaters Economics


10:50                   Discussion and Q&A – Leon, Marco, John, Patty with Moderator Shawn Johnson, Managing Director, Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, University of Montana


11:40                   Break    (for Great Water Conversations set-up)


12:00                   Great Water Conversations Lunch (buffet provided) – A special topics lunch (all about water)! Instructions: Cruise through the buffet line, then head to the table you selected in advance.

Look for the numbered table that matches the number on your nametag.

(Grand Ballroom – room dividers will be closed for lunch and re-opened after)  


Water Policy Deep Dive: Analyzing Montana water policy history and future as told by former legislators and examining statewide challenges and regional water policy innovation at the water quality/quantity nexus.


1:30                     Panel: Past policymakers recount their roles in shaping Montana water policy, share their thoughts on where we’re headed, and provide advice to current policy-makers.

Featuring former legislators:

§  Dorothy Bradley

§  Steve Doherty

§  Lorents Grosfield

§  Chas Vincent

Moderator Holly Franz, Attorney, Franz & Driscoll, PLLP


2:30                     Discussion and Q&A – Dorothy, Steve, Lorents, Chas with Moderator Holly Franz


3:00                     Break     (Capitol/State Rooms)


3:20                     Panel: Bridging the divide between water quality and quantity – Challenges in Montana and innovation from across the West.

§  Adam Schempp, Senior Attorney and Director of the Western Water Program, Environmental Law Institute, Washington D.C.

§  Tim Davis, Water Quality Division Administrator, MT Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)

Moderator Sarah Bates, Regional Deputy Director and Senior Director, Western Water Program, National Wildlife Federation


4:20                     Discussion and Q&A – Adam and Tim with Moderator Sarah Bates


[Insert Fun Here]: Evening event with live music!


6:00                     Heavy hors d’oeuvres, no-host bar, lively conversation, and music by Helena’s-own Dogjam! (Capitol/State Rooms)




Wednesday, March 7


Adaptation and the Way Forward: An interactive workshop focused on adaptation in your own work; inspirational stories of local and regional adaptation; and a multidisciplinary look at water efficiency vs. conservation.


8:00                     Morning welcome and day one highlights – Shawn Johnson, UM


8:15                     Adaptation: Making it Happen in Your Own WorkLara J. Hansen, Ph.D. Chief Scientist and Executive Director, EcoAdapt


8:45                     Montana Adaptation Vignettes – Short stories from fellow Montanans of water challenges brought on by climate and growth – and the innovative ways they’re dealing with those challenges.

§  Mike Gaffke, President, Association of Gallatin Area Irrigators (AGAI)

§  Kevin Hyde, Montana Mesonet Coordinator, Montana Climate Office

§  Germaine White, Information and Education Specialist, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

§  Kyle Mehrens, Stormwater Program Coordinator, City of Bozeman

§  Danika Holmes, Hydrologist/Water Resource Specialist, Montana DNRC

§  Brant Oswald, Board President, Flyfishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM)


10:00                  Discussion and Q&A – Mike, Kevin, Germaine, Kyle, Danika, and Brant with Moderator Lara Hansen


10:30                   Break    (Capitol/State Rooms)


10:50                   Alleviating Western Water Woes: An Adaptation Workshop – Integrated discussion about adaptation, barriers, and moving closer to actionable solutions across water use sectors and at multiple scales.


12:00                  Lunch    (Capitol/State Rooms)


1:00                 Panel: Does water efficiency equal water conservation? It’s complicated: A multi-disciplinary examination of a common adaptation strategy through hydrology, policy, management, ecology, and on-the-ground lenses.

§  Allen Martinell, Irrigator, President, Lima Water Users

§  Mike Roberts, Hydrologist, DNRC

§  Travis Horton, Region 3 Fisheries Manager, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

§  Bryan Gartland, Deputy Regional Manager, Helena Regional Office, DNRC

Moderator Ann Schwend, Water Resource Planner, DNRC


2:00                     Discussion and Q&A – Allen, Mike, Travis, Bryan with Moderator Ann Schwend


2:30                     Real-Time Wrap-up and Deliverables: Your thoughts on bringing it all together and moving toward Montana’s water future with Moderator Shawn Johnson and Whitney Lonsdale, Assistant Director, Montana Water Center


2:45                     Closing Remarks – Bill Yellowtail, Retired Rancher, former MT Senator



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