The tribes filed claims should the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Water Compact not pass. It was not an option. The deadline to file was July 1, 2015.
From the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation website: “As of July 2015, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and United States Department of Justice have filed 10,109 claims in place of the Compact. These claims, filed as placeholders to the Compact, are currently stayed before the Montana Water Court. If the Compact is approved by the U.S. Congress, the Tribes, and the Water Court, both sets of claims will be dismissed. If the Compact is not approved, both sets of claims will be adjudicated through the Montana Water Court. Without Compact — Total Claims to be Adjudicated Absent the Compact — 10,109 The CSKT filed 1,720 on-Reservation water claims. They also filed 1,094 off-Reservation instream water claims, all with time immemorial priority dates. The off-Reservation claims are located in 51 of Montana’s 85 adjudication basins. The USDOJ also filed 7,295 total claims in trust for the CSKT. All 10,109 claims would need to be adjudicated in the absence of the Compact.”
If there is no compact this will be a very expensive process.