On Thursday, May 1, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox presented the state’s closing arguments in the Montana v.Wyoming water trial. 

Spokesman John Barnes said the lawsuit goes back to 2007.

"Back in 2007, the state of Montana filed a lawsuit against Wyoming for removing more water from the Tongue and Powder Rivers than was allowed under a 1950 compact between the two states," Barnes said. "Because of what Wyoming did, Montana water users were denied just over 1,000 acre feet of water over the last decade, and that's approximately three point three billion gallons. Of course, to folks in that part of the country, water is life. Ranchers and farmers rely on that water for crops and livestock, and so this is a very big issue."

Barnes explained why the closing arguments took place not in Montana or Wyoming, but in California.

"The Special Master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court in this case is a law professor from Stanford, so the closing arguments took place at Stanford University," Barnes said. "This morning, Attorney General Fox delivered the opening statements in what are today the closing arguments for that trial."

Barnes said pinning down a time frame for the Special Master's decision is difficult.

"Likely what will happen is that after today, the Special Master will take all the the evidence and testimony he has received, and then will issue a report," Barnes said. "Then, either party can take issue with that, and if they do, that goes directly to the U.S. Supreme Court."

While on Stanford’s campus today, Attorney General Fox and Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael spoke with Stanford Law School students about western environmental law issues. The panel discussion was streamed live to University of Montana School of Law students in Missoula.

Attorney General Spokesman John Barnes