U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) on July 13 continued efforts to fix Montana’s St. Mary Milk River Project and protect stateside jobs and agricultural operations.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Milk River Project in north-central Montana furnishes water for the irrigation of about 121,000 acres of land. Project features include Lake Sherburne, numerous dams, the Dodson Pumping Plant, 200 miles of canals, 219 miles of laterals, and 295 miles of drains.
In May, Drop 5 of the Milk River Project experienced a catastrophic failure that stopped the river’s water flows for land irrigation, water users and municipalities along the Montana Hi-Line, including the Blackfeet Reservation and Fort Belknap Reservation. The Hi-Line refers to the northern part of Montana that is adjacent to U.S. Highway 2.
On July 8, Sen. Daines announced that the Bureau of Reclamation determined that the Drop 2 and Drop 5 of the Milk River Project both qualify for emergency work, which will allow repairs to go forward.
“It is devastating to see such destruction that has completely stopped flows to the Milk River, which thousands of Montanans rely on,” Sen. Daines said during a Monday roundtable discussion in Cut Bank, where he met with community members and top administration leaders on the Milk River Project following a tour of the damaged drop sites.
“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,” said Sen. Daines.
The senator was joined during the roundtable 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.
During the last several weeks, Sen. Daines introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would repair the St. Mary Canal and Conveyance Works system, and sent a July 1 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.
“I won’t stop fighting in Congress to get the funding and resources needed to repair the system and ensure this never happens again,” said Sen. Daines.