Montana’s Water Future – Water Summit a Success!

As a headwaters state, Montana enjoys an abundance of clean, cold water – most of which originates in or near the state’s borders as mountain snowpack. Clean water is foundational to Montanans’ quality of life, essential to agriculture, recreation, tourism and a key contributor to ecosystem function, public health and community livability. As Montana’s population and economy grow, largely in select counties and urban areas, so too does water demand. And, as Montana’s first-ever Climate Assessment illustrates, the state’s water resources are changing. Snowpack is declining and melting sooner, streamflow is lower in late summer, and severe droughts will likely increase in frequency and duration. With unprecedented pressures on Montana’s water from population growth and climate change, it is critical to expect and prepare for future challenges.  

In March 2018, over 300 people convened in Helena, Montana for the first statewide Water Summit, a two-day event examining the forces shaping Montana’s water resources now and into the future. The Summit brought together a diverse cross-section of participants for an in-depth look at the challenges the state faces with water management, policy, quality, quantity and increasing demands. The Summit theme, Water in a Changing West, highlighted the impacts of climate change, economic development and population growth through dynamic presentations and small group discussions with scientists, policymakers, attorneys, tribal members, economists, natural resource managers, irrigators, anglers, watershed coordinators, educators and more. The Water Summit continued the critical conversations initiated during the recent update of Montana’s State Water Plan.

As a follow-up to this first Summit, MT DNRC, in partnership with the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, sponsored “Montana’s Water Future”, a 9-minute video produced by Jon Catton.

The video highlights the Summit in an engaging, dynamic, and community-oriented way. The video focuses on the importance of water in Montana and six major themes – brought forth by the Montana Water Summit – that help define Montana’s water and suggests actions to help prepare for a changing future.  Stay tuned for the next Montana Water Summit in March 2020.

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