Tester Introduces Bill to Fund Milk River Project, Irrigate Cropland Benefitting 1 Million People

Senator's Legislation Invests in Water Infrastructure for Thousands of Montanans

(Big Sandy, Mont.)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester has introduced legislation to provide critical funding for the Milk River Project in northcentral Montana.

After Tester spoke to the St. Mary’s Working Group this week, he drafted a bill to ensure the federal government picks up 75 percent of the tab for the major water project. Currently, the federal portion of the project is 26 percent, burdening local jurisdictions with a hefty bill.

“This legislation ensures that local taxpayers won’t be stuck with the enormous cost of this project,” said Tester. “Investing in this infrastructure will provide water for families, businesses and farmers and ranchers in the region.”

Tester’s St. Mary’s Reinvestment Act will cover 75 percent of the cost of Sherburne Dam and Reservoir, Swift Current Creek Dike, Lower St. Mary Lake, St. Mary Canal Diversion Dam, and the St. Mary Canal.

The entire project is estimated to cost $41.9 million. It will provide water to 18,000 Montanans and irrigate enough cropland to feed one million people.

Tester recently secured $1.9 million for this project in the 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act.