(Havre) – With the St. Mary Rehabilitation Working Group giving fall updates New Media Broadcasters Sat down with their coordinator Dave Peterson to ask where St. Mary received their funding for their projects from.
“The Safety Dams Project funding for this is coming from the Bureau of Reclamation and also the water users along the milk river. So that project itself is a $77 million project the money from the St. Mary’s diversion dam replacement project is coming from the Jobs Act bill we got a $100 million through that and a majority of that will be for the diversion dam which is about $91 million and then through the last state legislative session there was two bills that went through one was the House Bill 6 which is the St. Mary project $26 million interest only loan. The second bill is house bill 8 and it is a regular loan. the last funding opportunity that can be possible is through the Fort Belknap Water Rights Settlement Act and what that is the money that can be coming from the Fort Belknap settlement compact. those are the huge funding bills we have going on right now.”
We also asked what the Fort Belknap Indian Community Water rights Settlement Act was and how it affected St. Mary projects.
“Well, that is the Fort Belknap Indian Community, that is their water compact. So, every tribe in Montana has settled their water compact with the state of Montana and the federal government. The Fort Belknap Indian community is the last Indian community that needs to get their compact settled. So, there are things in that compact that are strictly to do with the Fort Belknap Indian tribe this is the one caveat in there compact that that had anything to do with the St. Mary ‘s Project and now they also own 1/7th of the stored water that is in Fresno. So, the St. Mary’s Project is very important to the Fort Belknap Indian tribe and their community because they irrigate off of that they provide drinking water for their communities there so that is why they have included that in the settlement act of their compact.”