Tester Secures $10 Million for Blackfeet Water Compact in Must-Pass Budget Bill

Senator’s Efforts Should Deliver First Federal Funds for Job-Creating Water Infrastructure Project

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured $10 million for the Blackfeet Water Compact in a must-pass budget bill.

Tester secured the $10 million in the 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which was passed today by the Senate Appropriations Committee. If passed by the entire Senate, this will be the first federal funding the water infrastructure project has received.

“Today we took another step to do right by the Blackfeet Nation and fund this important water compact,” Tester said. “The Blackfeet Water Compact was decades in the making, and now it is time for Republicans and Democrats to work together to finalize this funding that will create jobs and increase access to clean water.”

Tester led the charge to authorize the Blackfeet Water Compact last December and, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he fought to secure the funding needed to fully enact the Compact.

“On behalf of the Blackfeet Tribe I want to thank Senator Tester for his work on this important appropriation that will secure some funding for the Blackfeet Tribe and our Water Compact,” said Blackfeet Tribal Business Council Chairman Harry Barnes. “Senator Tester worked tirelessly for the Blackfeet Tribe and all of Indian Country.”

The $10 million for the Blackfeet Water Compact will remain in the 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill unless it is actively and purposefully removed before the final vote.

The Compact will:

  • Establish the tribe’s water rights in all six drainages within the reservation.
  • Rehabilitate the aging Four Horns Dam and Blackfeet Irrigation Project.
  • Provide for a regional water system to deliver municipal water to communities within the Blackfeet Reservation.
  • Give the Blackfeet Tribe the ability to use, lease, contract, or exchange water on tribal land.
  • Develop reservation water resources and promote economic development.

The 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill is now awaiting a final vote on the Senate floor.