Bitterroot Irrigation District receives grant

Perry Backus

by Ravalli Republic

A proposed $3 million project to replace a vital section of pipeline that carries water to nearly 1,400 Bitterroot Valley irrigators will receive $250,000 from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Sen. Jon Tester announced Friday the Bitterroot project was one of 10 in Montana selected to receive a portion of the $3 million in federal monies set aside for infrastructure upgrades across the state.

The BRID project proposed to replace an 877-foot section of steel pipeline and its supporting bridge that crosses the Bitterroot River near the start of the 70-mile-long canal system used to irrigate 16,656 acres.

The steel pipeline siphon and bridge were constructed in 1909 and now face serious structural integrity issues. The existing bridge footings lack sufficient depth, and a shift in the Bitterroot River could result in a collapse of the structure.

The proposal calls for replacing the bridge with a free-span structure that would make it safer for people floating the river.

In 2013, the crop market price for irrigators using the system was estimated at $9 million.

The irrigation district has applied for a grant and loan through the state’s Renewable Resource program.

The program typically offers a grant of $125,000. The district also has money saved to put toward the project.

BRID is currently requesting a loan of $1.83 million from the state program. That request is before the Montana Legislature.