Opinion: Chippewa Cree Tribe water project provides for future

"Since December, I have attended several meetings and conventions where I met with many members of our Montana State Legislature and candidates running for Governor. During the various meetings I attended, I heard time and again the need for infrastructure projects for the state of Montana such as housing, roads and bridges. Each of those categories is valid due to population growth in areas such as Havre, Shelby and the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. These types of projects also bring jobs in these areas of Montana. In the discussions, I found myself having to remind all in attendance that the very basic need of clean drinking water is required for any kind of growth and prosperity for Montana's future.

In 1999, President Clinton signed the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Reservation Indian Reserved Water Rights Settlement and Water Supply Enhancement Act into law. That settlement act provided 10,000 acre feet of water for the Chippewa Cree Tribe via Tiber Reservoir. In 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana Regional Water System Act into law. As a Congressionally authorized project, the Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana Regional Water System project will distribute clean drinking water to meet tribal, municipal, rural and industrial needs for the Rocky Boy's Reservation and seven counties in north central Montana.

Anyone associated with public drinking water is familiar with the Clean Water Drinking Act and the regulations mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce that Act. They do not have to be reminded of how stressed our aging infrastructure is when it comes to public drinking water supply systems here in Montana. Water treatment plants, storage facilities, and distribution systems that are, in many cases, over 50 years old are on the brink of shutdowns from Department of Environmental Quality which is under enforcement from the EPA. The reality is, however, our communities cannot pay for the cost of the infrastructure that is needed to comply with EPA regulations."

Get the Story:
Mary Heller: Water infrastructure protects health, provides jobs (The Great Falls Tribune 6/11)

Join the Conversation