At Urging of St. Mary’s Working Group, Tester Will Introduce Bill to Rehabilitate St. Mary’s Diversion Dam, Improve Water Infrastructure on the Hi-Line
Senator: “I will keep pushing for further funding until the entire Milk River Project is rehabilitated and water users on the Hi-Line can rest easy knowing they will have access to the water they need to survive for years to come”
At a meeting of the St. Mary’s working group today, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced he will introduce legislation to make rehabilitating the St. Mary’s Diversion Dam more affordable, and ensure the Milk River Project can continue providing water to farmers, ranchers, and Tribes in Northcentral Montana that depend on it.
Tester, the Bureau of Reclamation (BoR), and the St. Mary’s Working Group have been working hand-in-hand on the legislation, which will also require the BoR to use an ability-to-pay study on what the current water users could afford to pay for the project and set the cost share for the rehabilitation based on that study, ensuring the project is completed without breaking the bank for irrigators on the system.
“Folks in Northcentral Montana have been fighting to secure water that irrigators on the Hi-Line need to survive for more than a century, and I’ve been proud to help lead that fight since my time in the state legislature,” Tester said. “Securing funding for the St. Mary’s Diversion Dam is a critical first step, but even after this bill passes, I will keep pushing to ensure the entire Milk River Project is rehabilitated and water users on the Hi-Line can rest easy knowing they will have access to the water they need to survive for years to come.”
Tester plans to introduce his St. Mary’s Reinvestment Act next week.
He has been leading the fight to increase investments in the Milk River Project since his time serving in the Montana Legislature, and Tester recently threw his support behind a joint resolution making its way through the Montana legislature that would support completion of the St. Mary and Milk River Project.
The Milk River Project provides water to 18,000 Montanans and irrigates enough cropland to feed one million people.