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Mar 11, 2021

Tester, Daines, Rosendale Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Rehabilitate Critical Hi-Line Water Infrastructure

St. Mary’s Reinvestment Act would authorize $52 million to rehabilitate St. Mary’s Diversion Dam

U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, along with Congressman Matt Rosendale, are today introducing a bipartisan bill to make rehabilitating the St. Mary's Diversion Dam more affordable, and ensure the Milk River Project can continue providing water to farmers, ranchers, and Tribes in Northcentral Montana that depend on it.

The St. Mary's Reinvestment Act will authorize $52 million to rehabilitate the St. Mary's Diversion Dam, part of Bureau of Reclamation's (BoR) Milk River Project in northcentral Montana, and require the BoR to use an ability-to-pay study on what the current water users could afford to pay for the project and set the cost share for the rehabilitation based on that study.

"Water is life, and without the Milk River Project it would be in short supply for folks who live and work on the Hi-Line," Tester said. "This bill will help ensure a reliable source of water, and rehabilitate a critical piece of water infrastructure without breaking the bank for irrigators on the system. I will keep pushing to ensure the entire Milk River Project is rehabilitated, so water users on the Hi-Line can count on having access to the water they need to survive for years to come."

"Farmers and ranchers' livelihoods in northern Montana depend on the St. Mary's Milk River System and after serving the Hi-Line for over a century, it's past time for an upgrade," Daines said. "The collapse of the drop structure last summer illustrated the urgency in getting this project the funding it needs. We came together to fix the drop structure last summer, and we will come together to get this bill across the finish line."

"As a main source of water for drinking, irrigation, and recreational activities, I am happy to have introduced legislation in the House to help repair the St. Mary's Canal," Rosendale said. "This is long overdue and I look forward to providing reliable access for water users in the region.

Tester authored and introduced the bill, with Daines joining as an original cosponsor. Congressman Rosendale introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.

Tester has been leading the fight to increase investments in the Milk River Project since his time serving in the Montana Legislature, and agreed to introduce the St. Mary's Reinvestment Act at the request of the St. Mary's Working Group last week. The Milk River Project provides water to 18,000 Montanans and irrigates enough cropland to feed one million people.

The text of the Senators' legislation is available HERE.


Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.


Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768


Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647


Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586


208 North Montana Avenue
Suite 104
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462


8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974


130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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