Daines Leads St. Mary’s Milk River Project Roundtable with DOI Assistant Secretary, Local Officials, Community Members

CUT BANK, MT – U.S. Senator Steve Daines today led a roundtable discussion in Cut Bank with community members and top administration leaders on the St. Mary’s Milk River Project following a tour of the damaged drop sites 2 and 5. Daines has actively been working on a solution to fix the St. Mary Milk River Project to protect Montana jobs and the ag operations on the Hi-Line.

Daines was joined by U.S Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, Dr. Tim Petty, Phillips County Economic Growth Council Co-Chair, Marko Manoukian and Milk River Joint Board of Control Program Manager, Jennifer Patrick among others.  

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“It is devastating to see such destruction that has completely stopped flows to the Milk River, which thousands of Montanans rely on,” Daines said. “Now more than ever, we need our agency partners to be doing all they can to reduce red tape and ensure reconstruction can go forth as smoothly and quickly as possible. That’s why I led this meeting today and won’t stop fighting in Congress to get the funding and resources needed to repair the system and ensure this never happens again.”  

Before the roundtable, Daines brought Petty and other agency officials to see the damage at Drop Structures 2 and 5.

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In May, Drop 5 of the St. Mary Milk River Project experienced a catastrophic failure stopping the flows from St. Mary that provide water for the irrigation of 121,000 acres of land, 18,000 water users and municipalities along the Hi-Line, including the Blackfeet Reservation and Fort Belknap Reservation. 


On July 8th, 2020, Daines announced that the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has determined the Drop 2 and Drop 5 of the St. Mary’s River Project qualify as emergency work which will allow repairs to go forth with less strain on Montanans.

On July 1st, 2020, Daines introduced an amendment to a major defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to repair the St. Mary Canal and Conveyance Works system.

On July 1st, 2020, Daines sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee urging quick consideration and passage of his bipartisan St. Mary’s Reinvestment Act

On June 29th, 2020, Daines called Secretary Bernhardt urging him to expedite making the emergency extraordinary operation and maintenance work determination.

On June 12, 2020, Daines sent a letter to the Department of Interior requesting Secretary Bernhardt monitor reconstruction closely and do everything within his authority to alleviate the burden on irrigators and stakeholders.

On May 18th, 2020, Daines sent a letter to Bureau of Reclamation requesting the agency move expeditiously to determine St. Mary’s reconstruction qualifies as emergency extraordinary operation and maintenance work.