The Montana Legislature directed the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) to update the Montana State Water Plan (§85-1- 203 MCA). To implement this effort, the DNRC launched the Montana Water Supply Initiative (MWSI) to engage Montana citizens in developing water management strategies and recommendations in each of Montana’s major river basins. The Upper Missouri River Basin represents one of four major watersheds within Montana.
During Fall 2013 the DNRC is conducting scoping, which means the Department is both giving the public an overview of how it is planning to update the State Water Plan and soliciting input on what issues should be considered. Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, Inc. submitted these comments to the DNRC supporting the MWSI generally, but pointing out that any update to the State Water Plan should consider both water quantity and quality.
As we explain in the letter many of the water quality issues affecting subwatersheds of the Upper Missouri River Basin are related to, and in some cases exacerbated by, changes in water quantity. We believe identifying and studying this nexus complements the existing water quantity focus, and is especially important considering the State Water Plan is the blueprint by which the state will prioritize, and act upon, water resources issues for the next 20 years!
As the saying goes if you’re going to do something, do it right, the first time.