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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
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Marketing Water Rights

Water rights can be bought, sold, and leased in Montana.  Although water rights are attached to the land on which they are used and are typically conveyed with the land in the event of a sale, water rights may be severed from the land and leased or sold to another party for other beneficial uses.  Whether a water right is sold or leased, the change of a water right to another beneficial use requires the approval of DNRC to ensure that the pertinent criteria are met. This includes the requirement that the proposed use not adversely affect the use of other water rights (85-2-402, MCA; 85-2-407, MCA).  Water right transactions may include:

  • the sale of water rights for other beneficial uses
  • a temporary lease with DFWP or other parties for instream flows to protect fishery resources (85-2-408, MCA)
  • the lease or sale for aquifer recharge or for mitigation of adverse effects of off-stream uses (85-2-420, MCA)
  • a temporary lease of up to 180 acre-feet during two of ten consecutive years
  • a short-term lease for up to 17 acre-feet over 90 days for road construction projects (85-2-410, MCA)

Compensation associated with water right transactions are subject to negotiation between the parties.  Due to the specific circumstances of particular water rights and the limited number of these transactions, the availability of relevant information regarding water right transactions is limited.