Montana claims Powder, Tongue rivers depleted by Wyoming |

Montana claims Powder, Tongue rivers depleted by Wyoming

Associated Press Writer

BILLINGS, Mont. ” The state of Montana filed suit Thursday in U.S. Supreme Court against Wyoming over water rights, claiming Wyoming’s excessive use of water from two river systems is leaving downstream Montana ranches and farms dry.

The dispute over the Tongue and Powder rivers ” which flow from northeastern Wyoming into southeastern Montana ” marks a sharp escalation in an increasingly acrimonious water fight between the two states. The region is suffering through a prolonged drought dating to 1999.

The lawsuit alleges Wyoming is ignoring Montana’s “senior” water rights by taking more water from the rivers than allowed under the 1950 Yellowstone River Compact. That includes water diverted and stored for irrigation and also groundwater pumped from beneath the surface during coal-bed methane production.

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