Tester, Baucus announce major assistance to restore Laurel’s access to Yellowstone River

Senators work to speed approval of Yellowstone River diversion system

(U.S. SENATE) – With Montanans along the Yellowstone River still overcoming recent severe flooding, Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus today announced multi-million dollar assistance to begin restoring the city of Laurel’s water supply.

The $1.4 million award from FEMA will be used to stabilize the banks along the Yellowstone River near Laurel that eroded during flooding in spring 2011. Laurel relies on the Yellowstone River as its chief source of water, but flooding altered the path of the river away from the city’s water intake system.

“Folks in rural America know how unpredictable weather can be, but when disaster strikes we work together to move forward,” Tester said. “This award is a big step to getting past the recent flooding and providing folks in Laurel with the water they need.”

“Working together, we’ve pushed hard to make sure folks in Laurel are not faced with the constant threat of wondering whether they’ll have clean water when they turn the spigot. This award means we’re one step closer to helping the city of Laurel recover from devastating floods, and I’ll keep working to make sure they can fully get back on their feet again,” said Baucus.

FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are responsible for approving a plan to restore Laurel’s water intake system. Until recently, the approval process was moving so slowly that Laurel Mayor Ken Olsen asked Tester and Baucus to get involved in hopes of speeding up the process.

Tester and Baucus urged the EPA, FEMA and the Army Corps to better work together. They continue to press the agencies to ensure that the process to restore Laurel’s water intake moves forward in a timely manner.

Since the Senators’ involvement, Laurel officials say FEMA and the Army Corps are being more responsive to Laurel officials.

Tester and Baucus this month also secured disaster relief for parts of central and eastern Montana that were battered by recent flooding.