Water questions raised by canal company

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

Board members from the Pondera County Canal & Reservoir Company (PCC&RC) were on hand for last Mondays’ council meeting.

Their purpose was to bring to light some questions regarding plans the city has for using PCC&RC’s municipal water rights.

One dealt with the cities decision to sell 285,000 gallons per day of treated water to Brady, to be delivered by pipeline constructed by the NCMRWA (North Central Montana Regional Water Authority),  from Conrad to Brady, using the PCC&RC’s municipal water right.

There question was, under state law would the PCC&RC’s municipal water rights allow Conrad to make such a sale, and if not what changes would need to be made and who would need to file the change request application?

The second asked, Conrad has been promoting the formation of water districts in the outlying areas around Conrad and offering to sell them domestic water under PCC&RC’s water rights. Can the City of Conrad legally do this under PCC&RC’s water rights as currently filed, and if not what changes would need to be made to those water rights and who would need to file the change request application?

The third question asked if an individual lived within the claimed 30 mile service area of Conrad and hauling water from the city’s water depot to their residence outside the city limits, and were to decide to install a pipeline from the city’s water supply to their residence, would that require a change authorization from the DNRC?

And the fourth question was, Does PCC&RC, as owners of the municipal water right have a legal responsibility and obligation to make certain their water rights are being used in accordance with Montana state law?

The questions were answered by Matt Miles a Water Resource specialist from the Havre office of the DNRC.

Questions one and two got the same answer; because the new appropriation of water would be occurring in a new place of use, PCC&RC would need to apply for and receive authorization from the DNRC prior to using water at the new place of use. The applicant would be the water right owner of record which in this case would be the PCC&RC.

Number three went like this: Water may be sold at a historical place of use as long as the amount of water used does not exceed the amount of water historically used. If water is piped outside the historical place of use then DNRC authorization is required.

And number four, The PCC&RC is the legal water right owner and would therefore be responsible for any violations of the Montana Water Use Act pursuant to MCA-Title 85.

The city took no action on this and tabled the matter until their attorney could look at the questions and replies.

In other business, three bids on cleaning city hall, were received and read to the council. One was from Ginny Winters for $650 a month, one was from Mel Orr for $480 and the third was Kathy & Dick Hodgson, K&D Cleaners, for $785.

The bids were taken under advisement and tabled until the next meeting on March 18.

A number of reports were given. Cheryl Curry from the Pondera Regional Port Authority (PA) noted that now that the holidays are over the PA is going to advertise the sale of their house in Brady.

It has to go to a low income family or individual with income levels of less than $19,480 for a single person and $27,700 for a family of four.

There was a loan request from an area business that does work in the county, but is located in another.

The PA policies do not allow for loans to be made outside the county. These policies may be reviewed at a later date.

The business was referred to Sweetgrass Development.

The PA is working with the school district to get the crossing guard part of the program for Safe Routes to School going for the spring season. The PA will coordinate the schedule of volunteers.

HUB Zone training will be done later this month.  “We will contact two businesses who want to do business with the government and take advantage of the Pondera County HUB Zone designation,” Curry said. Other interested businesses and people may want to come to the Pondera Center on March 16 at 1 p.m.

Chief Gary Dent reported that there were 172 calls for service during the month of April. In part that included residential checks harassment and unwanted text messages, two thefts reported, two alarms looked at and a number of assists to the PCSO, ambulance crews and MHP.

In a public hearing portion of the meeting, the first reading of Ord-406 was read and passed. This deals with changing council meetings to the first and third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.

Four people were appointed to the Park and Rec board. They include Cynthia Johnson, Chris Hofstad, Sandy Syvertson and Ron Barnhill.

Two change orders for Outback Construction for work done on the remodeling of city hall were presented, and approved by the council, one was for $1,876 and the other was for the fixing of the concrete slab at the back of city hall for  $10,504.

The council approved $40,214.84 to purchase a new city police car. They can save $1,933 if the vehicle is paid for up front and then financed through the city.

The next regular meeting of the council will be on March 18, 7:30 p.m. in city hall at 411-1/2 S. Main Street.

Visitors are always welcome and encouraged to attend and see their government at work.