In the June 13 issue of The Independent-Observer (I-O), Conrad’s Mayor Wendy Judisch and the Conrad’s representative to the North Central Montana Regional Water Authority (NCMRWA) Cheryl Curry claimed to be “frustrated” and “out of the loop” regarding the status of the Conrad/NCMRWA/Brady water agreement.
Bob Sill, vice president of the Pondera County Canal & Reservoir Company (PCC&RC) says, “I-O readers will recall several news releases over the past year or so which reported Conrad signing agreements to furnish municipal water to the NCMRWA for delivery to the Town of Brady. The PCC&RC was never a party to the discussions between Conrad and the NCMRWA to sell water to Brady, and were not aware of the agreement until it was published in the I-O.
Sill goes on to say, “Conrad’s signing of the agreement created several problems for the PCC&RC who owns the municipal water right to the city users to deliver water to its residents. The agreement also is contrary to what is allowed by PCC&RC’s by-laws and policy regarding water use by shareholders.”
As owner of the municipal right, PCC&RC cannot allow water to be transferred to an area not historically served by PCC&RC without (first) receiving a “change of place of use” from the DNRC.
Currently Conrad’s “place of use” is described as within the city limits and one mile outside the city limits.
PCC&RC by-laws and policy also do not allow shareholders to sell water, and share transfers are not allowed at this time.
In an effort to help Brady with their water problem and legitimize the agreement Conrad had signed, the PCC&RC allowed Conrad to transfer a portion of the pre-1973 shares of water stock in PCC&RC to NCMRWA for use by Brady.
Those shares would transfer back to Conrad when water was made available via NCMRWA’s pipeline from Lake Elwell to Brady. The PCC&RC also agreed to file for a change of place of use for its municipal water rights, at NCMRWA’s expense, to include the Town of Brady.
The PCC&RC sent a copy of a proposed agreement which addresses the above issues to legal counsels for Conrad and NCMRWA and also to the town of Brady in March 2012. A revised proposed agreement was sent to counsel for the parties on June 7. As of June 21, the PCC&RC has not received a response from either party.
“Once again, the PCC&RC was not a party to the agreement Conrad made to sell water to NCMRWA or Brady and the PCC&RC’s requirement for Conrad to transfer shares of water stock to NCMRWAS simply legitimizes the agreement the city previously made,” said Sill.