Project Update January 2021
U.S. Senator Steve Daines recently announced his bipartisan “Clean Water for Rural Communities Act” has been authorized and signed into law. The bipartisan law will ensure that thousands of Montanans have safe, reliable drinking water through the implementation of the Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System in Central Montana. The $87 million project is proposed to be funded by a combination of federal (65%), State (17.5%) and local sources (17.5%).
The Central Montana Regional Water Authority (CMRWA) is a coalition of eight incorporated communities, several unincorporated communities and many rural families areas in central Montana with a long legacy of poor water quality and limited quantity.
The CMRWA and Great West Engineering have been planning a regional water project called the Musselshell Judith Rural Water System for fifteen years with the goal 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 will require no treatment except chlorination.
The CMRWA has completed and tested three successful wells in the Madison Aquifer. The testing proved the high quality and adequate quantity of water available. The data collected from this test well allowed the CMRWA to obtain 100% of the full water rights needed for the project from the State of Montana.
The 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. Reclamation also determined that the project has a benefit to cost ratio of 1.28:1. Finally, Reclamation has determined that the project complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).
The CMRWA recently learned that the federal portion of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 projects may be eligible for funding from the USDA Rural Development (RD) program. The CMRWA recently applied for these funds and expects to hear from RD on its federal funding applications in mid-2021.
The land acquisition, environmental and final design of Phase 1 of the project which will deliver water to the City of Harlowton and rural users along the route is complete and has been approved by the State of Montana DEQ. The Phase 1 project has a State commitment for $2.8M under the current biennium. The project is shovel ready once federal funding is obtained. If RD funding is obtained this year, the Phase 1 construction project which will deliver water from the wellfield to Harlowton and rural users along the route will be constructed by the end of 2022.
For more information please visit CMRWA’s website at http://www.centralmontanawater.com/ or contact the project engineer, Bob Church, at [email protected] or the project administrator Monty Sealey at [email protected]. View the proposed project phasing map with impact area here!
Central Montana Regional Water Authority
P.O. Box 175
Roundup, MT 59072