Baucus, Tester try to set water project fund
As Montana's U. S. senators announce a proposal to provide a secure funding source for rural water projects, the Indian tribe working on one of those projects announced a milestone.
The Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation announced Friday that its Tribal Water Resource Department has accepted the operations and maintenance responsibilities on behalf of the U. S. Bureau of Indian Affairs for the core system of the Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana Regional Water System.
The day before the tribe announced that Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., introduced legislation to try to provide secure funding to build improved rural water systems, such as the Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana system.
Baucus and Tester's bill would set up a fund worth at least $80 million a year in a fund to pay for construction of rural water projects.
"Bringing clean water to more Montana families supports agriculture and good-paying jobs for the long haul, " Baucus said in a release announcing the legislation.
"This bill is a good balance to responsibly invest in our clean water infrastructure and I'll keep fighting to get these projects completed. "
"Upgrading our water infrastructure creates jobs and delivers clean water to our rural communities, " Tester said in the release. "This long-term investment in our rural water infrastructure is important and will make sure rural America doesn't get the short end of the stick. "
Seven other senators joined Baucus and Tester in sponsoring the bill.
Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana is one of four regional rural water projects in Montana.
The other Montana projects listed on the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation website are the Fort Peck/Dry Prairie system near and on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation; the Central Montana Regional Water Authority that will serve Hobson, Broadview, Judith Gap, Harlowton, Ryegate, Lavina, Roundup and Melstone; and the Dry-Redwater Regional Water System that would bring water to portions of Garfield, McCone, Richland, Dawson and Prairie Counties.
Rocky Boy's/North Central and the Fort Peck/Dry Prairie systems are two of seven systems Congress authorized the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation to build. Other projects are in North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and New Mexico.