Grass Valley French Ditch Company provides senior water rights to buyers looking to mitigate the impacts of development in the Missoula area.

The Grass Valley French Ditch Company is one of Missoula’s oldest and largest irrigation companies. Now, as Montana's first permitted water bank, the Company is proud to bring its substantial senior rights and long history successfully managing water to buyers looking for mitigation water in the Missoula area.

The Grass Valley French Ditch Company is legally authorized to sell or lease water to mitigate new water withdrawals in the growing Missoula Valley. We serve buyers such as developers of housing subdivisions, businesses looking to offset industrial water use, or agricultural projects in need of additional irrigation or stock water.

What is a water bank?

A water bank is designed to facilitate efficient trades among water users. Across much of Montana, water is over-appropriated, meaning more water is allocated than is physically available in streams or rivers. As such, many areas are closed to new water appropriations, including the Missoula Valley. Any new water use that requires more than a small permit-exempt well is required to mitigate, or offset, its impact on groundwater or nearby surface waters.

Before the Company’s water bank was approved, this often meant having to buy and convert senior irrigation water rights to instream flow, an expensive and difficult option. Now, developers can purchase or lease mitigation water much more simply from the Grass Valley French Ditch Company.

About the company

The Grass Valley French Ditch Company lies in the heart of fast-growing Missoula County, and has diverted water from the Clark Fork River since 1901. The Company historically irrigated 5,489 acres just downstream of the City of Missoula. The main canal is 13.5 miles long, and can divert up to 105.75 cubic feet per second (68 million of gallons per day) from the river.

The Company’s vision for a water bank has been in the works for almost a decade. Shareholders first decided to explore water marketing options in March 2008 to meet the growing demand for residential and industrial water use in Montana's second-largest city. The board of directors voted to change the bylaws to recognize certain company “shares” for water mitigation. In December 2014, the Company received received authorization from the Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation to market some of its water rights as mitigation water.

Water Bank Prices 

The Grass Valley French Ditch Company is working with Highland Economics to set water bank prices. Details regarding prices are disclosed on a case by case basis, and subject to market changes. 


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