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1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
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Fort Peck Dry Prairie Regional Water System

The Fort Peck-Dry Prairie Regional Water System, under construction in the northeastern part of the state, is a project of considerable scale, designed to bring high quality drinking water to residents of the region, with an authorized price tag of $193 million (1998 dollars). The on-Reservation portion costs are paid totally by the Federal government, and the off-Reservation portion has a 76% Federal –24% combined State/Dry Prairie split, under the funding provision of Public Law 106-382.

That project authorization legislation was passed by Congress on October 13, 2000, and signed into law by President Clinton in November, 2000. A programmatic environmental assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) were issued by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) in 2002; Reclamation is the lead Federal agency for the project.. A final engineering report (FER) was submitted to and released by Congress in 2003. The system achieved a significant milestone in 2006, when it was first included in the President's budget for FY 2007.

Project sponsors make annual appropriations requests to Congress, and of the amount approved, the Fort Peck Tribes (Tribes)will receive almost 71%, and Dry Prairie Rural Water Authority (DPRWA) slightly more than 29%. Total actual Federal project dollars received are as follows:

Fiscal YearAmount
2001 $435,000
2002 $3.6 million
2003 $7 million appropriated, $4.471 million received
2004 $6.7 million
2005 $6 million
2006 $15.8 million
2007 $7 million (under a Continuing Resolution)
2008 $9.8 million
2009 $10 million, plus $40 million in American Reinvestment & Recovery Act funds to Tribes
2010 $8 million

Funds for 2001 were used for: environmental studies to meet requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); completing the draft Final Engineering Report (FER); and, covering system administrative costs by both the Tribes and DPRWA.
Federal FY02 funds went to design/oversight of the Missouri River water intake facility and the water treatment plant (WTP), purchase of property on which to locate the WTP between Wolf Point and Poplar, securing easements, and other administrative costs.

Engineering services for the entire project were procured by both the Tribes and DPRWA, and Reclamation first released funds for construction purposes in 2003.
Initial estimates were that the project would take 10-15 years to complete, dependent upon steadily increasing annual Federal appropriations, which would peak at about $30 million per year. Based on past levels of Congressional appropriations, and rising cost indexing on materials for both the water treatment plant and water supply pipelines, estimates in 2007 by engineers and Reclamation indicated that the project would had to have been funded at a level of $20 million per year for the following 22 years in order to be fully built out by 2030 AD. In comparison, a sum in excess of $50 million per year would have been needed to finish the project by 2013, the originally authorized year of completion.

On-Reservation Construction

The Fort Peck Tribes held formal groundbreaking ceremonies for the on-Reservation portions of the system in September 2003.

In 2004, the Tribes’ contractor constructed the regional raw water intake facility on the Missouri River, southeast of Wolf Point, on the north side of the river near the old iron bridge on Montana Route 13.

Also In 2004 a contract for preliminary site work and sludge pond construction for the WTP was awarded; this work was substantially complete by autumn of 2005. After two unsuccessful attempts to solicit bids for the entire water treatment plant (WTP) facility, the bid process was intensively studied by the Tribes and Reclamation. The subsequent bid-lettings divided the WTP construction into smaller, more manageable schedules.

As a result, contracts for construction of the clear wells and the wash water recovery basin were awarded early in 2007, with those portions of the WTP reaching 95% completion by July, 2009.

The $40 million in ARRA funds received by the Fort Peck Tribes in 2009 were committed to: a) completion of the water treatment plant; b) main pipeline construction between the WTP location and Poplar; and, c) completion of the final segment of raw water pipeline from the Missouri River intake.
The final phase of the WTP was under construction beginning in 2010,  and was completed in July 2012.  August of that year saw the public dedication of the facility, and final test runs of the varied water treatment processes.  This schedule was timed to coincide with the completion of construction of the water supply main from the WTP to the Town of Poplar. Poplar received its first water from the regional system treatment plant in September 2012.

Dry Prairie Construction

In October, 2003, construction began on the first leg of the Dry Prairie Rural Water System. DPRWA finished this first phase of pipeline construction from the Culbertson WTP north to Medicine Lake in the fall of 2004, using treated Missouri River water from Culbertson on an interim basis to supply the communities of Froid and Medicine Lake, as well as a limited number of rural users.

In 2006 DPRWA constructed 190 miles of pipeline, known as the “A” Branch Lines project, which resulted in connection of more than 190 additional rural users as well as the community of Bainville. Along with two new 500,000 gallon storage reservoirs, this was at that time determined to be the extent of work that could be done in the southeastern region of the project area, until construction of either the regional WTP plant and supply lines from the Reservation system, or an upgrade to Culbertson’s WTP could be completed.

The Authority shifted its primary construction efforts in 2009 to the southwestern portions of its planned service area, utilizing and augmenting existing water treatment and delivery infrastructure, as well as constructing new pipelines, to bring regional water to the Town of Nashua and to users in rural portions of Valley County.

The following construction projects were completed by the Authority in the years specified:

Dry Prairie Rural Water Authority

Dry Prairie Rural Water Website
Chairperson: Rick Knick
Vice-Chairman: Jon Bolstad
Secretary-Treasurer: Dana Berwick

DPRW Board Membersare: Marvin Tarum & Allen Bunk (Valley County CD), Laurel Clawson & Jon Bolstad (Sheridan County CD), Charlie Cahill & Jim Tande (Daniels County CD), and Dana Berwick & Rick Knick (Roosevelt County CD)

Dry Prairie Staff

Culbertson Office

Joni Sherman – Manager
Heather Robertson – Project Services Manager
DeAnne Weeks – Office Manager
Cassie Williams – Administrative Assistant/Billing Clerk
Troy Spradley – Operations & Construction Foreman
Steve Moore – Field Representative/Inspector/Distribution Operator
Jerry Rodriquez – Field Representative/Inspector/ Distribution Operator
Keith Nordlund – Field Representative/Inspector/Distribution Operator

Glasgow Office

Mike Nieskens – Operations & Construction Foreman
Rick Birkoski – Field Representative/Inspector/Distribution Operator
Matt Eliason –Field Representative/Inspector/Distribution Operator
Dennis Shanks – Weekend On-Call Operator

Contact information
P.O. Box 577
Culbertson, MT 59218
FAX: (406)787-5392




PO BOX 20160

1539 11th Avenue

Helena, MT 59601

Phone 406-444-1879

Fax 406-444-6721


Water Supply Intake Resilience Analysis