Tester secures commitment to support irrigators in eastern Montana

As producers in eastern Montana look toward spring planting, Tester secured a commitment that the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and Army Corps of Engineers would work to help eastern Montana irrigators continue to access water this growing season.

Following a court order to conduct additional analysis of a modification to the Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam, Tester has heard from folks in eastern Montana who are concerned about accessing sufficient water to irrigate their crops.

In an Energy and Water Appropriation Subcommittee hearing this week, Tester pressed the agencies to ensure that irrigators had access to water this planting season.

“I do not know if Mother Nature will smile on these irrigators this summer, so that they don’t need as much water, but without irrigation water these guys could literally lose the farm,” said Tester, a dryland farmer in Big Sandy. “If it was my operation and I was counting on irrigated yield to pay my bills, it would be very difficult to maintain that operation.”

“We’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that farmers get some help,” BOR Commissioner López assured Tester.

López said his agency is working with the Lower Yellowstone Board of Control to seek an extension of a permit to allow the continued rocking of the diversion weir to try and get water to irrigators this season.