The Montana Water Rights Protection Act, passed by Congress and signed into law in December 2020, will protect the state’s $4 billion agricultural economy and promises a better future for all Montanans.

“This is a huge win for all Montanans. Our bill protects the water rights of all Montanans, saves taxpayer dollars, creates jobs, modernizes rural infrastructure, protects Montana agriculture and prevents costly litigation.”

U.S. Senator Steve Daines, R-MT

“Today is a historic day for Montana taxpayers, ranchers, farmers, and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Water is life, and the Compact honors our trust responsibilities, creates jobs, and prevents decades of costly litigation while investing in infrastructure and providing certainty to water users everywhere.”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, D-MT

“I am glad we were able to get this done to bring certainty to Montana’s farmers, ranchers, the Salish and Kootenai tribes, and all the water users across the state. Thank you to my colleagues in the Senate for their work on this legislation.”

Governor Greg Gianforte

“Thank you to Senator Daines and Senator Tester for their leadership and continued perseverance for a permanent water settlement. An additional thanks goes to Representative Gianforte for his stewardship in the House. The success of Montana’s agriculture industry is dependent upon water and water rights certainty. It is easily the single most important resource for people across Montana, which is why MSGA has long supported an agreement such as the Montana Water Rights Protection Act.”

Jim Steinbeisser, President
Montana Stockgrowers Association

Join FARM today to stay updated on how the Compact is protecting your water rights, creating jobs, and strengthening Montana’s economy.

The Montana Water Compact

Now that the Montana Water Rights Protection Act is law, the compact will:

Prevent endless litigation at the Montana Water Court that would delay action, cost taxpayers millions, and force farmers, families, county and city governments, and businesses into a costly legal process.
Protect all existing rights for domestic, commercial, municipal, industrial, stock water or other non-irrigation use.
Make new sources of water available for irrigators, businesses, farmers, ranchers and families.
Protect individual property rights by ensuring water rights can be transferred to future generations or upon sale of the land.

Benefits of the Compact

According to a 2016 study by Cascade Economics, the federal investment from the proposed Compact legislation would create:

$52.9 Million

in Annual Economic Activity



$744 Million

in Economic Activity in the First Decade

Support for the Compact

“This is one of the most significant days in the history of our people and one that will have a profound and positive impact on the future of the Flathead Reservation for the next century. We will be able to rehabilitate and modernize the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project and restore damages to fish and wildlife habitat caused by the project, while simultaneously protecting farmers and ranchers who depend on irrigation for their livelihoods.”

Shelly Fyant, Chairwoman

“Passage of the Montana Water Right Protection Act provides for settlement of the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes water right claims that are crucial to providing certainty regarding adjudication of Montana water rights. Passage of this important settlement legislation will prevent costly litigation, protect water rights throughout Montana, and very importantly, recognize and protect Montana's primacy over our water resources.”

Mike Murphy, Executive Director
Montana Water Resources Association

“The passage of the Compact will benefit all of Montana, while providing certainty and protecting senior municipal water rights for many of our members.”

Tim Burton, Executive Director
Montana League of Cities and Towns

“Our Senators have put in place an agreement that will ensure the future of agriculture in our state and protect our water resources for generations to come, while investing in Montana’s economy and saving our taxpayers, farmers, and ranchers millions of dollars.”

Tom Beck, Co-Chair
Farmers and Ranchers for Montana

“Senator Daines understands the value in this equitable solution, but rest assured the irrigators in the Gallatin Valley will be able to tell the story of a Montana solution that kept agriculture alive and focused on daily chores for generations rather than looking back on the dark days of litigation, telling the story of lost opportunities. From our 400+ irrigating members, THANK YOU, for a well-fought, positive outcome from Washington D.C., proving Montana's work ethic value.”

Walt Sales, President
Association of Gallatin Agricultural Irrigators

“On behalf of the Montana Agricultural Business Association, I am more than excited to hear of the passing of the CSKT Compact by Congress. This is a logical solution that protects access to farmers’ and ranchers’ most limiting resource - water. We thank those who put in a tremendous amount of work in a bipartisan way to see this through to fruition and protect Montana’s vital agriculture community.”

Luke Dighans, President
Montana Agricultural Business Association

“The passage of the Montana Water Rights Protection Act is great news for Montana. The legislation is a product of decades of negotiation and will settle farmers and ranchers water rights as far east as the Milk, Musselshell and Yellowstone rivers. This bipartisan bill and settlement is a good-faith compromise that will bring final resolution to a century-long water dispute, avoiding years of costly litigation.”

John Youngberg, Executive Vice President
Montana Farm Bureau Federation