DOI declares repairs to St. Mary Diversion emergency work

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., announced today that the U.S. Department of the Interior has ruled that repairs to two drop structures on the St. Mary Diversion and Conveyance Works that transports water to the Milk River qualify as emergency work, which will reduce the cost to the users of the system.

“I’m glad the administration responded to the St. Mary’s Joint Board and my request to make this decision and do everything in their power to lessen the burden on water-users,” said Daines said. “The St. Mary’s Milk River Project is the life-line of the Hi-Line and reconstruction is critical for rural jobs, ag operations, and water supply. There’s more work to be done, but I won’t stop fighting for the resources needed to repair this system for Montanans.”

Daines is running for re-election and faces Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Green Party candidate Wendie Frederickson in the general election.

A group has been pushing for 20 years to find funding for rehabilitation of the more-than-100-year-old system. Authorized as an irrigation project, users pay about 75 percent of the cost to operate and maintain the diversion.

Daines and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Rep. Greg Gianforte, who is not running for re-election and is campaigning for the Montana governor seat, have sponsored legislation to reverse that ratio so the federal government pays about 75 percent of the cost.