2 Montana water projects to share $60 million

Associated Press

by Susan Gallagher

Projects to improve delivery of drinking water in northeastern and north-central Montana will share $60 million in federal economic-stimulus money, the largest cash infusion since the projects' inception more than 10 years ago, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Wednesday.

"You're going to see more availability of clean drinking water," Tester said. In some of the places that will be served, people have been told to boil water before drinking it, he said.

The Fort Peck/Dry Prairie Rural Water System in northeastern Montana will get $40 million to complete a water treatment plant near Wolf Point; complete a water pipeline from the Missouri River to the treatment plant; and build new water lines to Wolf Point, Poplar, Nashua and St. Marie. The Rocky Boy's/North Central Regional Water System will get $20 million to start building about 50 miles of pipeline from Lake Elwell south of Chester to the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, south of Havre, and to complete a water-intake structure at the lake.

The money is in addition to $17 million the 2009 federal appropriations bill designated for the water projects.

Both will require more work after that money and the stimulus dollars are exhausted, Tester said.

"These projects have been a long time in the process," he said. The funding has been relatively small but now they are getting "real investment," he said.

Tester announced the stimulus funding with Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

"Investing in water infrastructure will boost the entire region, create new jobs and it will help rebuild our economy from the ground up," said Tester, who is on the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.