Havre Daily News
The cost for Havre to join the Rocky Boy's/North Central Regional Water Project would be about $778,000, much less than the previous estimate of more than $34 million, Bear Paw Development Corp. deputy director Annmarie Robinson said today.
Robinson and other project organizers will meet with city officials today at 1:30 p.m. at Bear Paw Development Corp. The regional water system also will be discussed at tonight's Havre City Council meeting.
The project has been authorized by Congress with a price tag of $229 million. Of that amount, $26 million will be shared by the state and the regional water authority.
The reason for the drop in cost for Havre's participation, Robinson said, is that since the project was first considered, engineers have discovered cost savings, some municipalities have dropped out of the project and the system has been reconfigured.
"Instead of it being $35 million, it will be $778,000, and it may even be less than that," Robinson said.
That amount would cover the cost of building the infrastructure for Havre to connect. Once the system is in place, the operation and maintenance costs for water users will be 69 cents per gallon. According to the study, Havre water plant personnel have indicated that the city's peak daily water usage is 4.5 million gallons.
In April, the City Council voted to use $21,000 from the water reserve fund to pay a "good-intent" fee to have an engineering firm come up with the cost of Havre joining the system, which will bring water treated at Tiber Dam to more than 18,000 residents on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and across seven counties.
In May, Havre Mayor Bob Rice traveled to Great Falls to meet with members of the Chippewa Cree Tribe and the regional water authority, which administers the nontribal component of the system.
There was some confusion as to whether Billings-based HKM Engineering would study only a full-supply option for Havre or partial supplies of 25 and 50 percent. Robinson said numbers will be available for all three options. Those options do not include significant differences in cost, she said.
"There is virtually no difference in out-of-pocket cost expenditures," Robinson said.
She was unsure how much time will be available at tonight's City Council meeting, but said she hopes the public has ample opportunity for comments and questions.
Without a vote of the City Council, Havre opted out of the project in 1997 and chose instead to upgrade its water treatment plant. Early last year, officials with the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce raised concerns over the future of the city's what supply.