Tester Secures $3.4 Million for High Hazard Dams in Montana

Funding will come from the Senator’s bipartisan infrastructure law

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured $3.4 million for high hazard potential dams in Montana. The grant will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) High Hazard Potential Dam (HHPD) Grant Program, which is funded by the Senator’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)and will be used to design, construct, and rehabilitate high risk dams across the state. The State of Montana will determine which dams will receive project funding by the end of August, and FEMA will announce the final list of funded projects later this year.

“I’ve been sounding the alarm on high hazard dams for years, and following the catastrophic failure on St. Mary’s Canal last week, it’s clearer than ever that we have to do more to ensure water infrastructure across the state is in tip-top shape,” said Tester. “That’s why I’m proud to have secured this funding through my bipartisan infrastructure law to bulletproof the critical water infrastructure Montana irrigators rely on, and prevent disasters before they happen.”

Tester has led the charge to improve water infrastructure across Montana. Following a major siphon burst last week on the Milk River Project near Babb, Montana, Tester took to the Senate floor to successfully pass the Fort Belknap Indian Community (FBIC) Water Rights Settlement Act which would provide critical funding for repairs on the Milk River Project.

The legislation will provide $1.3 billion to improve infrastructure and economic development for the FBIC and improve the efficiency of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Milk River Project, which furnishes water for the irrigation of about 121,000 acres of Tribal and non-Tribal land. The bill specifically includes $275 million to rehabilitate the St. Mary’s canal. The bill will also restore Tribal management to 38,462 acres of state and federal land for the FBIC.

After the St. Mary’s canal siphon burst, Senator Tester called on the Biden Administration to provide immediate support for the local community, small businesses, and irrigators impacted by the failure, which caused thousands of gallons of water to flood the surrounding area. The siphon burst has already caused extensive damage to local businesses, and will impact vital irrigation to farmland in the surrounding area. Tester also called on President Biden to include the Milk River Project in his Administration’s domestic supplemental package, which would make federal funding available to assist in the reconstruction of the St. Mary’s canal.

Earlier this month, Tester announced that a more than $88 million contract was awarded to Montana-based NW Construction to complete the St. Mary Diversion Dam Replacement project. The contract is part of the up to $100 million Tester secured for the Milk River Project through his bipartisan IIJA, which he negotiated and helped pass into law. Tester was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to support the legislation, and to support additional improvements to the St. Mary’s canal.