As expressed in my previous post, I had the fortunate opportunity to present at the Montana Water Law conference last. I also took some important lessons and observations away from this conference. Because my work focuses on “marketing,” my biggest excitement centered around the new application process for water rights that will go into effect on October 10, 2012. The topic was informally referred to as “reform” at the conference. This new approach will involve regional offices performing much of the work associated with new permits and change applications.
In no particular order, here are my initial thoughts:
1. Bring on the reform. As no surprise, the critics are already mumbling. We should know by now, it is not the critic that counts. The reality is the old system needed help and this “reform” is designed to fix this process. Here’s to the courage and foresight to bring this to life.
2. Increased efficiency is key. The basis for this application reform is to increase efficiency, by having regional offices conduct much of the permit and change work. The biggest concern is this will create a bottleneck instead of a superhighway. Washington has faced similar challenges I acknowledged here, and we all hope this is not the case. Only time will tell.
3. Transparency. Transparency. Transparency. HB40 brought greater transparency to the change and permitting process. The “reform” appears to make this process that much more transparent. Starting with the first meeting, the emphasis on communication and reaching the end object, should make for a better process.
4. Headed in the right direction. Since the introduction of HB40 the average processing time for a new appropriations drop by an order of months. This is a vast improvement and shows this process is headed in the right direction, I expect the water rights application reform to carry this momentum.
5. Change is tough (as recognized here), I salute the leadership and vision of those bringing this change. Even if they get pieces of the puzzle wrong, the willingness to change can correct these mistakes and march forward. This excites me.
As we head into a new world of Montana Water Rights Appropriations, I’m reminded of this quote by Teddy Rossevelt.
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.