Lewistown News-Argus: Better water flowing to Hobson

by Deb Hill

Another $2.5 million in federal funding was approved for the Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System, to be used for additional groundwater wells and to connect Hobson to the water pipeline.

“The difference in this money is, it’s actually coming from the President’s budget,” said Monty Sealey, Central Montana Regional Water Authority project administrator, referring to other federal funding the project has received through different agency budgets.

The current funding came via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Sealey said the Water Authority has just finished drilling a fourth well, and is checking to see how much water it will pump.

“We have plenty of water, plenty of capacity to run to Hobson,” Sealey said, adding he was glad the town’s officials decided to join the project last year. “Dale Longfellow was one of the original members [of the Water Authority board]. He’s happy too, I bet.”

Sealey said project engineers are currently working to secure a corridor for the water pipeline that will serve Hobson.

“We are focused on easements, but before the water arrives, the town needs to improve its own system,” Sealey said.

The Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System provides quality water from the Madison Aquifer to towns across Central Montana that lack access to good water. Harlowton is already receiving water from the project and the Water Authority is now working to connect Roundup.

“We hope to have Roundup hooked in by Thanksgiving, unless we can’t get the pumps,” Sealey said. “The water line is in place, but in the past we’ve had trouble with pumps being backordered. I think that problem is cleared up now.”

By a 3-2 vote, the Hobson Town Council voted in December, 2022 to connect the town, which does not have a centralized water system, to the Musselshell-Judith water pipeline. Hobson Mayor Loren Drivdahl told the Judith Basin Press in 2023 that bacterial rust, high coliform and nitrate levels, and shallow wells and collection boxes have been issues for water users in Hobson.

Senator Jon Tester, via a press release on June 25, said he was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to vote for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and he specifically supported funding for rural water projects in Montana.

“There is no need more critical to the health of our communities than access to safe, reliable drinking water — but oftentimes folks in rural America are left behind when it comes to updating out-of-date water infrastructure,” Tester said in the press release.