Valley Irrigation Company Establishes Montana’s First Private Water Bank | Local News

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Each share – which equals one acre of irrigated land – costs $ 12 to operate and maintain per year. With only 4,100 acres currently irrigated out of the nearly 6,000 that were previously irrigated, business leaders have seen a problematic trend.

“The others refused to pay, so as a result, we had all the water shares, or ‘miners’ inches” of water (an irrigated acre), that weren’t paid and in order to perpetuate this ditch forever. , we thought, ‘How are we going to do this?’ ”Saunders said. “Because the more subdivisions there are, the more costs increase. So who is going to do it? We’re going to get to a point where there are only five guys irrigating and they can’t afford to keep the ditch. “

If a developer is building a subdivision and wishes to drill a well, he must mitigate the amount of water evaporated or used by vegetation. An engineer determines this amount.

“An example of this is the subdivision through the Wye,” Saunders said. “They must have attenuated the water. They bought water from Glenn Ditch for their mixed water. We said, “What if we just changed our use to mitigation and irrigation? “”

After a seven-year process of administrative and legislative hurdles – including dozens of meetings, presentations, and demands, and legislation that allowed the DNRC to write new rules – the company was finally allowed to add marketing as a use of its water, as well as irrigation. .


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