Montana Rural Water Systems State Conference underway in Great Falls

by Keeley Van Middendorp – MTN News

GREAT FALLS – Water user groups from across Montana met in Great Falls on Wednesday for the 37th annual Montana Rural Water Systems State Conference.

Water officials are meeting to discuss future funding efforts for community water projects and sharing state and federal knowledge for community projects and waste-water systems.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) recently announced about a dozen federal grants for local water projects across the state.

Those funds are important for communities to upgrade what are often times antiquated water systems.

Anna Miller, a financial advisor with the MT Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, said, “It’s the health and safety of the communities, making sure that their drinking water is safe, that we’re treating the pollution and waste that goes into the water streams, and lso we’ve very proud that so many Montana construction firms, engineers, can come in and then help them build those projects, ’cause that means jobs in Montana.”

Some of the projects awarded grants include the Fergus Conservation District and Harlowton; both will receive $250,000 each, while the Sweet Grass Conservation District is slated to received $400,000.

Communities must raise 25% in matching funds.

Other Conservation Districts and state areas include:

• South Winds Water and Sewer District $400,000
• Bitterroot Conservation District $300,000
• Roundup $250,000
• Butte $250,000
• Bainville $200,000
• Gallatin Gateway $200,000
• Sanders County $200,000
• Terry $200,000

Both Lt. Governor Mike Cooney and Tester will be guest speakers at the conference this week, which will continue through Friday at the Best Western Heritage Inn located at 1700 Fox Farm Road.