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By Marko Manoukian
P.C. Extension Agent 

After 18 years of meetings, St. Mary/Milk River project receives large appropriation


November 17, 2021

On November 18, 2003, Lt. Governor Karl Ohs convened a meeting in Havre, Montana, to raise awareness of the urgent need to rehabilitate the aging St. Mary Facilities of the Milk River Project. On November 6, 2021, as part of the Federal Infrastructure bill the St. Mary/Milk River project will receive $100 million in funding. “It would be nice for a project that provides water and food to stand on its own merit, but the appropriation is fantastic,” said, Marko Manoukian Co-Chair of the St. Mary Rehabilitation Working Group. Additionally, the funding is non-reimbursable and does not need to be paid by the beneficiaries. All of the money can go towards construction and construction can be for any part of the system.

Cost is an issue, recently the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) updated the cost for the Diversion structure. Construction cost will be $63 million including fish passage and non-construction costs are 30% of that, making the diversion structure $82 million. This is double the estimated value from two years ago. It may take the BOR until the winter of 2024 to finish the design and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis to allow for construction on the diversion dam by spring of 2024. “We need to make sure the BOR is using the $100 million in a timely and efficient manner,” said Manoukian. It is a great day for the Hi-Line because without the flow of the St. Mary there would be no Milk River.


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