Tester Secures $85 Million for St. Mary’s Diversion Dam and Headworks Through His Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Funding is part of up to $100 million that will go to Milk River Project from Tester’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; Tester wrote the provision of the law allocating these resources for the Project

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced $85 million for the St. Mary’s Diversion and Headworks as a part of up to $100 million he secured for the Milk River Project through his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Tester negotiated and helped pass into law last year.

Tester was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to support the legislation.

“This is a critical, targeted investment in the Milk River Project that will update essential water infrastructure for our state and provide certainty and economic growth for communities, producers, and future generations in North Central Montana,” said Tester. “I worked for months to negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, and I personally fought for this funding because, as a 3rd generation farmer from Big Sandy, I know how critical this project is to our state’s economy. I’m going to keep pushing until the entire Milk River Project is repaired and rehabilitated so Montanans have access to the water they need for years to come.”

This funding will be allocated through the Bureau of Reclamation and used for the St. Mary’s Canal diversion and headworks replacement project, which will include a large fish bypass structure to mitigate impacts to bull trout. The first round of funding, $2.5 million, was announced in January and will be used for planning and project design in 2022.

Tester directly negotiated and wrote the provision of his legislation that will provide up to $100 million to rehabilitate the Milk River Project, and in December 2020, he urged Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton to make the St. Mary’s diversion a top priority and get the resources out the door as quickly as possible.

Tester worked across the aisle for months to negotiate his bipartisan package with a group of five Republicans, four Democrats, and the White House, and he was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to vote for it. Tester’s law is projected to create more than 800,000 American jobs and lower costs for businesses by making targeted investments that will strengthen our nation without raising taxes on working families.

Tester secured significant wins for Montana in the legislation, including $2.82 billion for Montana’s roads, highways and bridges; $2.5 billion to complete all authorized Indian water rights settlements; $1 billion to complete all authorized rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation; $42.45 billion for broadband deployment to low-connectivity areas across the country; and $3.37 billion to reduce wildfire risk nationwide, among others. Tester also worked to ensure that all iron, steel, and construction materials used for these projects must be made in America.