John Ferguson presents at the annual Montana Water Law Conference on DNRC’s New Guidance for Combined Appropriations

On October 5, 2022 John Ferguson presented to Montana’s water law practitioners concerning the history of and recent changes to DNRC’s interpretation and enforcement of “combined appropriations” from multiple groundwater wells.  More specifically, DNRC has recently again changed its analysis § 85-2-306, MCA, which authorizes the appropriation of groundwater up to 10 acre-feet per year from a single source aquifer, without a permit.  In implementing this statute, DNRC has struggled over the years to articulate a clear policy for how it will deal with multiple wells developed on an individual property, or developed as a part of a single project.  John’s presentation shed light on the nuances involved in this issue and the very muddy water which still surrounds this issue.