The system is designed to treat water from Lake Elwell at Tiber Dam south of Chester and transport it to Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation and to residents of 22 communities across the region including Big Sandy, Box Elder, Havre, the Hill County Water District and the North Havre Water District in northern Hill County.
The bureau also approved $9 million for use on the Fort Peck/Dry Prairie water system which will provide water on Fort Peck Indian Reservation and to communities off the reservation.
The project has received allocations far short of its projected total of more than $200 million, estimated some 10 years ago.
Montana’s lawmakers had added appropriations to bring some $5 million to $9 million a year prior to the current ban on earmarks.
$20 million also was added to the project in 2009 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Smaller projects, which could be connected to the main system once it is completed, have been done with the funding. Those include connecting some houses on Rocky Boy to a reverse osmosis treatment plant and connecting members of the rural North Havre Water District to the Havre water treatment plant.