CME Minutes

June 10, 2010

St. Ignatius, MT


CME Members:  Lloyd Irvine, Leonard Gray, Steve Hughes, Leroy Dumontier, Kerry Doney, Dan Emerson, Walt Schock, Ron Trahan


Staff:  Alan Mikkelsen, Rhonda Swaney, John Carter


FIIP:  Pete Plant, Gordon Wind, RaLynn Brown


Visitors:  Kathy Emerson, Paul Hunsucker, Dick Erb


The meeting was called to order at 1:00 pm by Chairman Lloyd Irvine.  Chairman Irvine asked the secretary to conduct a roll call.  Seven members of the CME were present.  Ron Trahan arrived at 1:04 pm. 


Steve Hughes moved approval of the May 6, 2010 minutes.  Leroy Dumontier seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 


The annual reorganization of the CME then took place.  Chairman Irvine opened the floor for nominations for the chairmanship of the CME.  Dan Emerson nominated Steve Hughes as chairman.  Leroy Dumontier seconded the motion.  After calls from the chair, there were no other nominations.  Steve Hughes received a unanimous vote for chairman of the CME, until June of 2011.  Nominations for vice chairman were opened.  Leonard Gray nominated Ron Trahan.  Lloyd Irvine seconded the nomination.  Walt Schock moved that the nominations close and a unanimous ballot be cast for Ron Trahan.  Motion carried unanimously, with Ron Trahan elected as vice chairman of the CME until June 2011.  Alan Mikkelsen was re- appointed as secretary (non-voting) of the CME. 


With the gavel passing to Steve Hughes, the meeting continued with a presentation on water right negotiations by John Carter and Rhonda Swaney.  Rhonda noted that the CSKT and FJBC were in the process of negotiating a stipulation for the FIIP water right within the larger context of water right negotiations with the Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission.  John Carter gave a basic introduction and explanation of the principles of western water rights under the prior appropriation doctrine.  He discussed the general water right application process in Montana, priority dates, and the Compact process that Montana set up to negotiate federal reserved water rights.  John noted that 95% of the surface water use on the Flathead Indian Reservation is by the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project (FIIP), and both John and Rhonda noted that the Compact Commission looked on the negotiations between the FJBC and CSKT very positively, and said that the Compact Commission felt that a successful stipulated agreement between those two parties for the FIIP water right would make the Compact Commissions job much easier.  Rhonda and John emphasized that the CSKT desired to use a scientific based method to determine the amount of water needed by crops in determining the FIIP water right.  Dan Emerson asked about the variability of water years and Steve Hughes asked about deep wells and secretarial water rights.  John Carter replied that there were still a lot of questions that the parties were trying to answer.  Rhonda Swaney again emphasized that whatever would be done would be done on a scientific, fact-based manner.  Leroy Dumontier asked about state permits.  Rhonda and John replied that the state expressed a desire to protect those permits, but said that the parties were still working on the issue.  Alan Mikkelsen discussed the management board under the proposed Unitary Management Ordinance, and expressed concern about off-reservation interests having a seat on that board.  He said he felt it would be more desirable to have the board made up of only reservation residents.  John and Rhonda agreed and said that the way the ordinance was drafted, the CME would be allowed to manage FIIP water rights.  Lloyd Irvine said he was in 100% agreement that the management board should only include reservation residents.  Chairman Hughes said that he would entertain a motion later in the meeting to write a letter from the CME supporting reservation-only participation on the Unitary Management Board. 


Pete Plant began the FIIP report with a discussion and report on hydrology.  The last 6 weeks of rain and snow have had a tremendous positive effect on the FIIP water supply.  He noted a month ago that the FIIP was looking at a very bleak forecast for irrigation water.  He said that the Mission Valley quota was being raised to .7 acre feet per acre and the Camas division quota would probably be raised to .5 acre feet per acre.  Most of the Mission Valley reservoirs are approaching full pool and Pete said that channel maintenance flows would be furnished, starting today, for the Mission/Post Creek streams.  These will be staged flows, mimicking natural flows to the maximum possible extent, as required in the Biological Opinion for bull trout recovery.  Pete noted that a month ago these flows would not have been possible, but with the rain, snow, and lack of irrigation water demand, they could now be conducted without a significant negative impact on irrigation water delivery.  In response to a question from Chairman Hughes, Pete said that non-quota water would be made available if the FIIP reached a spill situation and the channel maintenance flows had been provided.  The Flathead pumps have been shutdown as of June 9, and the transformers will be de-energized, allowing FIIP personnel to access and repair the switching gear on Pump 2.  There is a question about the reservoir elevation restriction on Ninepipe Reservoir and whether or not that restriction is still in effect.  Gordon Wind said that he would have that question answered in the next five days.  A restriction is still in effect on Kicking Horse Reservoir, from the Safety of Dams office.  Several board members complimented Pete on the thoroughness of the hydrology report. 


Gordon Wind gave the O&M report.  He discussed some major structure repairs that would have to be made this fall, after the irrigation season ended.  He said that the drop structure between Kicking Horse and Ninepipe reservoirs was a bottleneck for moving water, since it was in poor shape with an apparent void under the structure.  In order to get water moved from Kicking Horse to Ninepipe in a timely manner, he order flows increased from 100 cfs to 250 cfs, but noted that the drop structure would have to be rebuilt this fall, along with the Crow Pump siphon under the Montana Rail Link tracks and the Pablo feeder canal lining above Pablo reservoir.  Gordon noted that he was still trying to arrange a contract using BiOp monies for Ed McKay to help with some fish screen design and operating procedures.  Chairman Hughes asked Alan Mikkelsen to make sure that CSKT fisheries was specifically invited to each regular CME meeting and expressed a desire to have them attend to keep the CME briefed on fisheries issues. 


Gordon discussed two issues on the Back Road construction project.  One involved a pipeline installation and the other involved three culverts that have a high probability of plugging with trash.  He also discussed the 1992 canal failure on the Caffrey property south of Polson Hill.  He said that the BIA Agency Superintendent Chuck Courville said that paying the Caffrey’s for damages would be a FIIP responsibility.  Alan Mikkelsen read a portion of the indemnification and hold harmless clause of the transfer contract, indicating that the problem should be addressed by BIA. 


Gordon presented several pages of pictures of major repairs that the FIIP has been engaged in during the last month.  Gordon also informed the CME that he was working on trying to get a new phone system installed that would create significant budget savings in the future.  He noted that RaLynn was working to develop a web page for the FIIP that would allow better communication with water users.  Gordon presented a request for equipment needs.  He asked for permission to buy a ripper for a D-4 cat for $8900, and said that the FIIP was looking at two used dump trucks and a new 20 ton beavertail trailer.  He said the dump trucks would be approximately $70,000 for both trucks, and the trailer would be approximately $18,500.  Gordon said that the 320 excavator was back from Cat and that the FIIP now had four operating tracked excavators that were being put to good use. 


Leonard Gray moved that the CME approve the purchase of the ripper, and that Gordon poll the CME members via e-mail for approval of the purchase of the dump trucks and beavertail trailer once a final price and details had been negotiated with suppliers.  Kerry Doney seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 


RaLynn Brown presented a monthly financial report and a cleared balance report for the FIIP.  The cleared balance report for May 31 was $690,346.40.  A discussion was held about payroll issues and the desirability of the FIIP eventually being able to do their own payroll.  Alan Mikkelsen asked that RaLynn check with Rick Tameler of Western States Insurance on a workman’s compensation question. 


Chairman Hughes asked that Alan Mikkelsen compile a list of current FIIP specific rules from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and also put together the policies from the transfer contract and the plan of operations.  Chairman Hughes expressed a desire to look at 1-2 policies per CME meeting to develop a policy handbook. 


In new business, Ron Trahan moved that a letter to the BIA agency superintendent urging construction of an appropriate trash rack on the three-culver crossing on Back Road be a responsibility of the state or road contractor.  Lloyd Irvine seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 


Leonard Gray moved that a letter be sent to the BIA agency superintendent reminding him of the indemnification and hold harmless clause of the transfer contract.  Dan Emerson seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 


Lloyd Irvine moved that a letter be sent to the Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission expressing the CME’s support for all members of the proposed Unitary Management Board  being appointed from Flathead Indian Reservation residents.  Dan Emerson seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 


The chair called for public comment or questions.  There was none. 


Chairman Hughes called for a brief recess before an executive session to discuss personnel and legal issues.  The CME went into executive session at 3:00 pm. 


The CME resumed regular session at 3:50 pm.  Gordon Wind announced that a mechanic had left and that he would be working with Alan Mikkelsen to develop the position description for a new mechanic.  Gordon also said it may be necessary to release a ditchrider because of poor job performance and insubordination.  Lloyd Irvine reminded him that the employees were on probation for the first 6 months to deal with things like this.  Several other board members expressed support for Gordon’s actions.  A discussion was held on payroll problems with overtime and other issues.  RaLynn will be working on resolving these. 


Gordon presented three options for purchase of a manager’s vehicle.  Leroy Dumontier moved that Gordon purchase the Chevy LT from Mission Valley Auto in Polson.  Kerry Doney seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 


The next CME meeting will be Thursday, July 8, 2011.  It will begin with an executive session to discuss legal issues at 11:00 am, and the regular meeting will convene at 1:00 pm. 


Meeting adjourned at 4:20 pm.