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Salish and Kootenai Tribes strike new water deal with Montana officials

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BILLINGS, Montana — Montana officials say they've reached a new agreement on a water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Gov. Steve Bullock and Attorney General Tim Fox announced the deal Thursday.

They say it will protect the tribe's rights while ensuring irrigators and residents on or near the Flathead Indian Reservation have a reliable water supply.

The agreement also would set up a $30 million fund in part to pay for water pumping to meet irrigation demands.

The compact needs further approvals from the state Legislature, Congress and the northwest Montana tribes.

The Montana Legislature last year rejected a prior agreement that was the product of years of negotiations. At least four lawsuits have been filed since then over claims to the water flowing on or through the reservation.

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