“Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over,” goes an old saying. Getting to the facts can smooth out a lot of emotions, and maybe avoid some court battles. That’s what I hope comes from a study conducted by a state agency.
Detailed information on ground water north of Eureka will be presented on Monday, Dec. 17, at Riverstone Lodge, 6370 Highway 93 North. Presentations will be made at 12 p.m. and at 7 p.m.
Specialists from Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology have been gathering data for 18 months. It has been charted and compiled for a powerpoint presentation. This is a team of scientists who aren’t involved in land management or water use decisions. They deal in scientific facts.
The geographical area involved is from the Canadian border on the north to the Tobacco River on the south and from the foothills on the east to Lake Koocanusa on the west. Thanks to cooperative land owners, information has been gathered from more than 80 wells.
I requested the study two years ago and introduced the team to numerous land owners since the spring of 2017. Initially, I arranged meetings with several old-timers who remembered the Kootenai River before Lake Koocanusa was created by Libby Dam.
Then we toured the area, including a look at hills and ridges that have been opened to view by erosion from Lake Koocanusa as well as streams and lakes. This helped the team to visualize information compiled by well drillers. Data was gathered from existing wells, including water samples and static water levels. Dissolved minerals in ground water can indicate where it has come from.
A number of questions have come to me in recent years about groundwater and wells in this area. One situation regarding a commercial development resulted in a court case that currently has been appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.
This data is valuable to land owners, land use planners and state regulators.
Mike Cuffe is the Senator-elect for Montana Senate District One