Irrigation

A wheel line in a seeded wheat field is shown in this file photo.

A local water rights group is encouraging anyone with a senior water right to pay close attention to their mailbox, according to a release from the Association of Gallatin Agricultural Irrigators, or AGAI.

“You must be involved in the process to protect your water right,” AGAI organizers said.

In case right holders are not aware, the entire state is going through adjudication, a process of litigating all water rights that were put to use before 1973, according to the state. What AGAI wants is to ensure everyone with a pre-1973 water right recognizes and understands their water right could be affected, association officials said.

“The water adjudication laws are set up in a way that requires water right claimants to object to each other,” AGAI officials said in a release. “It is important to remember that water rights are a property right and all water right claimants have the right to take necessary steps to protect their property right. In the adjudication that means objecting to other claims that may adversely impact their water claim.”

If senior water rights holders want to protect their claims it is key to start paying attention, the association said.

“You cannot afford to ignore paperwork or information received from the Water Court or the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation,” organizers said.

The initial objection deadline passed May 9. At that time senior water rights holders were asked to review claims sent by the Water Court and object if the claim or other water right claims affected your water right.

Now that the objection deadline is passed, the Water Courtnotified water right owners by mail if someone has objected to an individual claim, according to state records. If thathappened, water rights holders can file counterobjections. The Water Court issued a notification that counterobjections must be filed by July 29. The Water Court will also set a date for “all interested parties to notify the Water Court of their intent in participating in any hearings,” AGAI officials said.

“If you received an objection to a claim, you have the right to file a counterobjection against any claims owned by the individual that objected to your claim,” association organizers said. “Only the water right claimant can decide if it is in their best interest to file a counterobjection.