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Commissioner Discusses Gallatin DDAMP

In a presentation last week to the Three Forks City Council, Gallatin County Commissioner Jennifer Boyer discussed the Gallatin Drought Deluge Adaptive Management Plan (DDAMP), which would identify community-based approaches for water resiliency.

According to Boyer, the Gallatin Watershed Collaborative, which she said is a group of water interests across the county, has been discussing and developing an approach that can support communities and natural resources facing drought and times of deluge.

Boyer told the Council the three primary goals of the DDAMP are to coordinate communication and public education, encourage voluntary drought response and water conservation, and establish long-term approaches and projects for watershed resiliency.

The documents provided to the Council state a collaborative steering committee would guide the DDAMP planning process. Academic and agency partners, including Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Montana State University, and the DNRC, would be technical advisors on the planning effort.

Boyer said it is really important to have this conversation because the county is experiencing rapid change with population growth, land use changes, and increasing demand on water resources. She added while the West has always experienced times of drought, adding on these compounding factors makes it more intense of an impact.

Founded in 2021 to unify local efforts to protect, restore, and enhance water resources in the Lower Gallatin Watershed, the Gallatin Water Collaborative has identified the DDAMP as a priority.

"The Collaborative is made up of over 30 stakeholders across the Gallatin Valley, including conservation organizations, government agencies, scientists, engineers, agricultural producers, recreationists, and developers. The group has developed prioritized goals and actions that will result in long-term water security so that the people and wildlife in our watershed have access to enough clean water to thrive. Looking across the state, we recognize the value of watershed-wide plans and the benefit the plan brings for both communication and orchestrating coordinated responses. By building a Gallatin DDAMP, the various efforts across the watershed can be linked and build a framework where public and private partners can use consistent messaging and coordinated voluntary actions," states the project summary.

With a background in water resources, Boyer said this type of project isn't something new and has already been done across the state and stressed the importance of the DDAMP to provide consistent messaging across the area.

Boyer said she believes that when you bring local people together to solve complicated problems, you get results that fit community needs.

Boyer added the DDAMP could also look at a larger project they could do collectively to increase water recharge and infiltration in certain spots.

The tasks in 2023 for the DDAMP would be securing stakeholder and technical advisor commitments, securing grant and matching funds, finalizing the scope of work, outcomes, and timeline, and securing a project lead.

Boyer said they hope to apply for a DNRC grant in the fall to support the plan's development, which has an estimated cost of $75,000.

Council member Gene Townsend said while the city is not involved with the Gallatin River, they see the effects of drought every year on the Jefferson River. He added it would be good for the City of Three Forks to at least be part of the DDAMP.

Townsend also addressed water issues in the county and said water will control what happens with growth in the county.

"Water is at a premium here in Three Forks," he said.

Boyer discussed the city possibly hosting a public forum and having a place at the table as a stakeholder group.

Core participants of the plan could include local communities, including Three Forks, watershed organizations, irrigators, Gallatin Conservation District, recreation interest, water and sewer district, local and state agencies, and developers.