Montana-Wyoming water spat before U.S. Supreme Court


WASHINGTON, DC – Montana's Attorney General defended the state's water rights before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday morning. Steve Bullock says Wyoming is violating an agreement the two states made back in 1950 and therefore is depriving Montana users of water that belongs to them.

Montana sued its southern neighbor in 2007 over water in the Tongue and Powder rivers and the nation's top court is now hearing the case because it involves a dispute between two states.

U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus also weighed in on the U.S. Supreme Court case on Monday.

Tester issued a statement that says, "In rural America, when you talk about access to water, you're talking about jobs. You're talking about the foundation of agriculture-Montana's number one industry-and you're talking about the ability of rural and frontier communities to continue to thrive for our kids and grandkids."

The Democrat went on to say in a press release that "Water is precious and has to be shared using common sense. We expect our neighbors to be good stewards of the rivers and streams that flow our way, just as Montanans are."

Baucus chimed in with his own statement backing Bullock, "Folks in Montana have a deep connection to the land, and our water is our lifeblood. It's important we fight for Montana's farmers and ranchers who are being sucked dry of water that rightfully belongs to them. I commend Attorney General Bullock for sticking up for Montanans whose livelihoods depend on winning this important fight."

At issue before the high court is the 1950 Yellowstone River Compact between Montana and Wyoming. The justices are being asked to decide whether Wyoming irrigators with pre-1950 rights can change their irrigation methods, which would result in a decrease in water flows available for use in Montana.