HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock plans to reopen limited negotiations for a water-rights compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
State officials said Tuesday they need to revisit a water-use agreement between the tribes and irrigation districts in western Montana. It would be incorporated into the larger compact and be presented to the 2015 Legislature.
Tribal leaders have agreed to reopen negotiations solely for that purpose.
The water-use agreement was an appendix to the water-rights compact, which the 2013 Legislature rejected. The group that negotiated the water-use agreement on behalf of three irrigation districts then disbanded, effectively invalidating it.
Talks will take place this summer.
Four lawsuits seek to resolve the dispute over who controls the water and how much goes to farmers, ranchers and others through the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project.