Bill funding Montana water infrastructure advances in Senate

Tester, Baucus say measure will deliver clean drinking water to thousands of Montanans

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Thousands of Montanans would have improved access to clean drinking water under a bill passed today by Sen. Jon Tester and his colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester and Sen. Max Baucus announced today.

This year’s Energy and Water Appropriations Act includes funding for three long-term water infrastructure projects in northeast Montana, as well as funding to improve dams and to develop Montana’s energy resources.

The appropriations bill includes Montana funding for:

  • The Fort Peck/Dry Prairie Rural Water System, which serves the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, as well as Valley, Daniels, Sheridan and Roosevelt Counties.  Once completed, the project will deliver treated water from the Missouri River through 3,200 miles of pipeline to more than 30,000 people in northeast Montana.  ($6 million)
  • The Rocky Boy’s/North Central Montana Regional Water Authority, which will deliver clean drinking water to more than 50,000 people who live across north-central Montana.  The project will eventually deliver treated water from Lake Elwell to the Chippewa Cree Tribe and 22 public water systems.  ($5 million)
  • The St. Mary’s Canal Rehabilitation Project, to help rebuild the aging water canal which delivers water from the Milk River to north-Central Montana.  ($3,783,000)

“All three of these projects will help rebuild Montana’s economy by creating jobs and strengthening our basic water infrastructure,” Tester said.  “Ensuring access to clean, reliable water is one of the most important investments we can make in rural America.  With basic water comes new opportunities for families and small businesses across the state.”

Tester is a member of the subcommittee that drafted the bill, which funds innovative energy research and water projects throughout the country.

“Tens of thousands of Montanans will benefit from these three projects,” Baucus said.  “Delivering safe water to communities across northeastern Montana has always been one of my top priorities, and we’re making good progress.  We need to keep doing our part to see each of these projects through to the end—which will create jobs and boost Montana’s economy.”

The Energy and Water Appropriations Act must first pass the full Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives before the funding can be signed into law.

For a full list of funding for Montana under the legislation, click HERE.

What is an appropriations bill?
  • A federal appropriations bill funds the federal government.  12 appropriations bills will fund the federal government for the next Fiscal Year.
  • Less than one half of one percent of these appropriations bills consist of congressionally directed funding (also called “earmarks”).  This funding is not additional spending for the federal government, nor does it increase federal deficit.  Rather, it is a set of directions telling the government where it must use existing funds.
  • In the past, appropriations funding had been abused by anonymous requests with little transparency.
  • Since 2007, the process was overhauled to guarantee transparency and fair debate in Congress.
  • All of Tester’s and Baucus’ appropriations requests are online HERE and HERE.