KPAX: Tester sees funding for Flathead Water Compact in Infrastructure Package

While most of the attention has been on roads and broadband, Senator Jon Tester says the proposed bipartisan Infrastructure Package could also help to fund the massive improvements outlined in the Flathead Water Compact.

Passage of the Montana Water Rights Act last winter included $1.9 billion in funds as a settlement of treaty water claims by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Congress has made some progress in budgeting roughly $900,000,000 of that total. But that still leaves a billion dollars unfunded.

During his stop in Missoula Thursday, Tester said the Infrastructure Package includes money for the Flathead Compact, as well as other settlements with Montana tribes.

“Because there’s a number of them. And Montana isn’t the only game in town on that, although we have several that need to be funded. There are other states too,” Tester told reporters. “They have to be funded so we might as well get them done. It’s a one-time expenditure and get them off the books. So I think that’s going to happen. Which is a huge deal.”

The settlement agrees to fund a long list of steps, from fish habitat restoration to upgrades to the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project.