Daines Works to Secure Support for Tribal Water Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Steve Daines today announced that he has helped introduce legislation to ensure Montana tribes have the resources they need to maintain irrigation projects on Montana reservations.

Daines today joined Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Jon Tester (D-MT) in introducing the Irrigation Rehabilitation and Renovation for Indian Tribal Governments and Their Economies Act, which will fix critical maintenance backlog issues at certain Indian irrigation projects throughout Montana and the West. Montana currently faces the largest maintenance backlog of Indian irrigation projects.

“We need a long-term strategy to maintain and address the needs of our Tribes’ irrigation systems. For far too long, perpetual delays and maintenance backlogs have caused inefficient water delivery and damaged infrastructure on Montana’s reservations,” Daines stated. “Every year that we allow these critical projects to collect dust, the more expensive construction, operation and maintenance become. We have a responsibility to properly manage our resources and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent effectively. ”

The bill would authorize funding from the revenues in the Reclamation Fund to address the deferred maintenance needs of certain Bureau of Indian Affairs irrigation projects, which includes any structures, facilities, equipment, or vehicles used in connection with the projects. It would also require a longer-term study on the operations of these projects. 

In the House, Daines introduced H.R. 4420, the Authorized Rural Water Projects Completion Act, which would secure funding for Montana rural water projects—providing rural communities and tribes with the support necessary to finally complete rural water projects that have been underfunded for several years, a commitment he will continue in the Senate.

Daines also successfully included in the final Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act an amendment that increased funding for the Rocky Boy’s Chippewa Cree Tribe and North Central Mountain Rural Water System and the Fort Peck Assiniboine and the Sioux Tribes and Dry Prairie Rural Water System.

The full text of the IRRIGATE Act is available here.