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Montana-Alberta St. Mary and Milk Rivers Water Management Initiative

Alberta and Montana are working together to improve access to the shared water of the St. Mary and Milk Rivers.

Terms of reference for the formation of the Montana-Alberta St. Mary and Milk Rivers Water Management Initiative were signed.

To view the Terms of Reference and Drainage Basins Map, please visit the Open Government Portal at:

This initiative is a first step in a two-year process to explore and evaluate options to improve access to the shared water. In the fall of 2010, the initiative will provide recommendations to both governments on preferred options for their consideration and approval.

The team working on the initiative included six members from each jurisdiction:

Montana Alberta
Anne Yates - Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (co-Chair) Robert Harrison - Alberta Environment (co-Chair)
Dustin de Yong - Office of the Lt. Governor Brent Paterson - Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
Randy Reed - Milk River Tom Gilchrist - Milk River
Dave Peterson - City of Havre Ken Miller - Milk River
Don Wilson - Blackfeet Tribe Gerry Perry - Oldman River
Harold "Jiggs" Main - Ft. Belknap Tribe Duncan Lloyd - Oldman River
Paul Azevedo - Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (secretariat) Tim Toth - Alberta Environment (secretariat)

The objectives of the initiative include:

  • Improved access for Alberta and Montana to share the waters of the St. Mary and Milk Rivers;
  • Enhanced decision-making processes that link water management more closely with the needs of water users in both jurisdictions;
  • Reliable water supply access for Alberta irrigators and other water users within the Milk River basin.

The team working on the initiative began meeting in October 2008 and meets approximately once every six weeks, alternating between Alberta and Montana. For highlights of the most recent meeting see below and for past meetings visit our archive at:

Highlights of August 16, 2011 meeting

The Technical Team presented a summary of the results of the credit system option, which allows the upstream jurisdiction to build a credit for surplus water crossing the border during the winter and spring high flows, to the Joint Initiative Team. Under this system, the upstream jurisdiction may then draw on the credit during the irrigation season. The Montana Team advised that the credit system as proposed was not acceptable for a number of reasons.

Both jurisdictions subsequently agreed to have the technical team undertake a detailed analysis of five previously reviewed options (most of which have been modeled), to determine the amount of benefit and amount of risk to each jurisdiction. The information will be presented at the next meeting.


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Updated: Jun 26, 2018