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State v. State of Wyoming

United States Supreme Court

February 20, 2018

STATE OF MONTANA
v.
STATE OF WYOMING AND STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA

         The Report of the Special Master is received and ordered filed. The proposed judgment and decree are entered.

          JUSTICE KAGAN took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

         JUDGMENT

         Judgment is awarded against the State of Wyoming and in favor of the State of Montana for violations of the Yellowstone River Compact resulting from Wyoming's reduction of the volume of water available in the Tongue River at the Stateline between Wyoming and Montana by 1300 acre feet in 2004 and 56 acre feet in 2006. Judgment is awarded in the amount of $20, 340, together with pre-judgment and post-judgment interest of seven percent (7%) per annum from the year of each violation until paid. Costs are awarded to Montana in the amount of $67, 270.87.

         Wyoming shall pay these damages, interest, and costs in full not later than 90 days from the date of entry of this Judgment. Wyoming shall make its payment into an account specified by Montana to be used for improvements to the Tongue River Reservoir or related facilities in Montana. Montana may distribute these funds to a state agency or program, a political subdivision of the State, a nonprofit corporation, association, and/or a charitable organization at the sole discretion of the Montana Attorney General in accordance with the laws of the State of Montana, with the express condition that the funds be used for improvements to the Tongue River Reservoir or related facilities in Montana.

         Except as herein provided, all claims in Montana's Bill of Complaint are denied and dismissed with prejudice.

         DECREE

         A. General Provisions

         1. Article V(A) of the Yellowstone River Compact (Compact) protects pre-1950 appropriative rights to the beneficial uses of water of the Yellowstone River System in Montana from diversions and withdrawals of surface water and groundwater in Wyoming, whether for direct use or storage, that are not made pursuant to appropriative rights in Wyoming existing as of January 1, 1950.

         2. Article V of the Compact, including the protections of Article V(A), applies to all surface waters tributary to the Tongue and Powder Rivers (with the exception of the explicit exclusions set out in Article V(E) of the Compact).

         3. Article V(A) of the Compact does not guarantee Montana a fixed quantity or flow of water, nor does it limit Wyoming to the net volume of water actually consumed in Wyoming prior to January 1, 1950.

         4. Article V(A) of the Compact protects pre-1950 appropriative rights only to the extent they are for "beneficial uses, " as defined in Article 11(H) of the Compact, and are otherwise consistent with the doctrine of appropriation. In particular, pre-1950 rights are not protected to the extent they are wasteful under the doctrine of appropriation.

         5. Except as otherwise expressly provided in this Decree or the Compact, the laws of Montana and Wyoming (including rules for reservoir accounting) govern the administration and management of each State's respective water rights in the implementation of Article V(A) of the Compact.

         B. ...


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