Musselshell Judith Rural Water System Project Update

We are pleased to announce that after 20 years of effort, the Central Montana Regional Water Authority (CMRWA) began delivering water to its first customers, the City of Harlowton and several rural users, in September of 2023!  The CMRWA is a coalition of eight incorporated communities, several unincorporated communities and many rural families in central Montana with a long legacy of poor water quality and limited quantity.

The Musselshell Judith Rural Water System’s goal is to provide communities and rural residents in the region with a reliable supply of high quality drinking water from the Madison Aquifer groundwater. The groundwater meets all Primary and Secondary Federal drinking water standards.  The water requires no treatment except chlorination.

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The overall project will utilize a 230 mile piping system to deliver water to users.  Once water is pumped out of the proposed wells the entire system will be fed by gravity except one area (Broadview) which requires a small booster pumping station.  The system design is simple yet very efficient for energy use and operations since no treatment plant is required.

The CMRWA obtained federal approval from the US Bureau of Reclamation for the project Feasibility Report in 2014 and obtained federal authorization for the project in December 2020.  The $137 million project is funded by a combination of federal (65%), State (17.5%) and local sources (17.5%).   

The CMRWA utilized grant funding from the State of Montana Regional Water Trust and USDA loan and grant monies to fund the recently completed $17.8M Phase 1 project.  The Phase 1 project includes 24 miles of pipeline, two deep high production wells, a disinfection/control building, a 550,000 gallon prestressed concrete tank and a fiber optic line for high speed SCADA control of the system.

The CMRWA received $37M in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding in 2022 for its Phase 2 project which will deliver water to Roundup.  This in conjunction with the $2M competitive ARPA grant, $2.5M HB 632 grant and a $0.5M grant through HB 11 for regional water obtained through the Montana Legislature completes the grant funding for the Phase 2 project.  A $9.4M loan through the State Revolving Fund completes the funding for the $54M Phase 2 project.  Construction of the Phase 2 project is underway and is expected to be completed by November 2024.  Phase 2 includes 65 miles of pipe, storage tank and completion of an additional high production well.

In early 2023 the CMRWA was awarded $28.6M in 2023 BIL funding for Phases 3, 3A and 4 of the project. Environmental and cultural resource investigations and studies have been completed for Phase 4 which is construction of the pipeline to the Town of Melstone and the Sunset Colony.  Land acquisition is underway for the Phase 4 project and design has been initiated on the project.  Construction of this 50-mile pipeline project is expected to begin in the late summer of 2024 and be completed by the end of 2025.  This $23.5M project is funded with $15.3M of 2023 BIL funds in conjunction with $5.4M in DNRC Regional Water Coal Trust funds and a $2.8M SRF loan complete the funding package.

Great West is also working on the environmental and cultural field work and studies for Phase 3 (Broadview) and Phase 3A (Shawmut/Deadman’s Basin Water District).  Funding for these projects includes 2023 BIL funds as well as DNRC Regional Water Coal Trust funds and SRF Loans to complete the funding.

For more information please visit CMRWA’s website at http://www.centralmontanawater.com/ or contact the project engineer, Bob Church, at [email protected] .   

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