HELENA, Mont. – The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) recently reminded water right owners that the deadline for filing a claim on their exempt water rights is June 30, 2019.

The 2017 Montana Legislature created the opportunity for owners of exempt water rights to file claims when it passed HB 110. Since the filing period began on May 7, 2017, DNRC Director John Tubbs said the Department has received more than 7,000 exempt claim filings.

An exempt water right is defined as a water right that was in existence before July 1 of 1973. Water rights in this time period were exempted from two previous mandatory filing periods that took place in 1982 and 1996. Exempt water rights are for livestock and individual domestic uses based upon instream flows or groundwater sources only. They do not include rights for irrigation, diverted stock water from ditches or reservoirs, or commercial and municipal wells.

Tubbs urged water right owners not to miss this opportunity to file their claims.

“If you don’t file your claim, your water right will not be enforceable against any filed water rights, including water rights that are junior in priority,” he said. “Filing ensures protection for your water right.”

Exempt water right claim forms are available at any DNRC regional office, the Montana Water Court, or online at The cost to file an exempt claim is $130.00, with a cap of $1,560.00, or twelve claims per water division. All claims beyond twelve for a single owner within a single water division have no additional filing fees.

Exempt water right owners who filed their claims prior to April 30, 1982, or during the late filing period that ended on June 30, 1996, do not need to update their claims.

Step-by-step instructions for filing an exempt water right claim, along with FAQs, contact information and more, is available on the DNRC web site at