VOLUME 15, NUMBER 27
THE COLDEST MONTH
FEBRUARY 20, T987
Stream flow, reservoir levels debated; comments accepted until Feb. 27
The Reservation's fish and farmers all need water to survive. In years when there isn't enough of the wet stuff to go around - which will probably be the case in 1987, thanks to an exceptionally dry winter -- whose needs will be filled first? Can the resource be managed so all water users are satisfied? If so, how?
Those were some of the questions
on people's minds two weeks ago when the Bureau of Indian Affairs' proposed 1987 interim stream flow levels were discussed at a series of five public hearings.
The hearings were a result of a court order prohibiting the BIA from implementing any water management
The Bureau of Indian Affairs, as manager of the Reservation's irrigation division, has drafted an irrigation water allocation plan it proposes to begin implementing in mid-April.
Using "the best data available", in the words of Wyman Babby, the Flathead Agency superintendent, the plan attempts to address the summer water needs of the Reservation's fisheries and irrigators.
Interested individuals are strongly encouraged to read the proposal, which was released to the public Jan. 30, and submit written comments by 4:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 27. (Copies of the plan are available from Jim Claar at the BIA in Pablo.)
Send comments to: BIA Superintendent, Drawer A, Pablo, MT 59855.
plan that doesn't consider the rights of all interested parties. The court order was itself a result of a lawsuit filed last summer by a group of non- Indian irrigators who said they weren't consulted when alleged harmful-to-farming minimum stream flows were proposed.
BIA Flathead Agency superinten-. dent Wyman Babby conducted the hearings, which went beyond the usual procedures for public hearings. His introductory remarks were followed by technical presentations by irrigation and fisheries experts. An hour of off-the-record questioning-and-answering between individuals and a variety of BIA employees (from the local agency as well as from both the Portland and Billings area offices), was followed by on-the-record comments from a number of speakers.
Reports from those who attended the Arlee, Charlo and St. Ignatius meetings say those meetings were lively and spirited, with non-Indian irrigators easily outnumbering Indians or pro-fisheries speakers.
The Feb. 12 meeting in Pablo was less eventful (as was the Hot Springs gathering the following evening, according to sources). Testifying in behalf of Tribal interests was Tribal Council vice-chairman Ron Therriault. He first pointed out that the BIA hadn't drafted an interim water management plan, as it believes, but rather an interim in-stream flow plan. He said the Tribes supports the concept of a
(Concludes on page two)
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Salish Kootenai College
D'Arcy McNickle Library
CSKT PN 4883.J6 C4
Vol. 10, No. 10
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