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Celebration set for North Havre rural water system


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Local, state and federal officials will gather in Havre Friday morning to celebrate another major achievement in creating a regional water system: The connection of the North Havre Water District to the water treatment plant in Havre.

The connection will provide treated water to rural residents in northern Hill County, and eventually be connected to the Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana Regional Water System once it is completed.

The celebration starts at 9 a.m. in Havre, then will tour north to the new system, which began operating in July, and south to tour facilities being built at Tiber Dam.

Mary Heller, the North Central Montana Regional Water Authority general manager, said the people who have confirmed they will attend include Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., the Hill County commissioners, and representatives of federal and state agencies as well as state legislators and representatives of north-central Montana communities and water districts.

The regional system, which stemmed from a water compact with the Chippewa Cree Tribe signed by the state and federal governments, will treat water at Lake Elwell south of Chester and provide it to some 30,000 people on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and throughout north-central Montana.

The system will provide water to people from Loma north through Havre to the North Havre Water District and west as far as Shelby, Cut Bank and the Sweetgrass Community Water and Sewer District.

The water authority, which is overseeing construction of components off the reservation — Rocky Boy is overseeing its own system and work — has been working with comparatively low levels of funding in recent years. Its strategy has been to make connections and lay lines that later can be connected to the system once it is complete.

Several of the water districts in the authority, including the North Havre Water District, have been under boil orders for several years due to the quality of their water.

Heller said other work is ongoing, including laying a core pipeline to the area at Tiber Dam where the water will be treated, as well as building a water intake facility in Lake Elwell behind the dam.

That work, along with work to build a booster pump near Box Elder, is being funded by a $20 million appropriation to Rocky Boy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Heller said that work is proceeding well. The core pipeline is being laid with the Tribe's Chippewa Cree Construction Corp. as the main contractor, with several subcontractors. The crews are beating the national average for the amount of pipe being laid each day, she said.

"We're kind of proud of that. It's kind of exciting," Heller said.

Agenda for Turning on the Spigot water district celebration, this Friday

- 9 a.m .: Meet at the TownHouse Inn, 629 1st St. Havre

- 10 a.m .: Drive to North Havre Pump Station

- 11 a.m .: Drive to core pipeline area

- Noon: Lunch, 12 miles south of Chester

- 1 p.m: Tour Tiber Dam and core pipelince facilities

- 2:30 p.m .: End of tour


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