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1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
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Rocky Boy North Central Regional Water Authority


Legislation for authorization of the Rocky Boy's - North Central Montana Rural Water System was passed by Congress in November 2002. The System will serve approximately 10,000 households with an estimated population of 28,000. The system will serve both the Rocky Boy's Reservation and numerous off-reservation systems including municipalities, county water districts, Hutterite colonies and other users.

The Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Reservation, and the State of Montana, through the Reserved Water Rights Commission, negotiated a settlement of the Tribe's Water Rights Claims. The Compact, ratified by the 1997 Montana Legislature and signed by President Clinton in December of 1999, provided a 10,000 acre-feet water allocation from the Tiber Reservoir South of Chester.

Importation of this water to the Rocky Boy's Reservation will require the construction of a treatment plant and approximately 50 miles of pipeline from the vicinity of Tiber Dam on Tiber Reservoir (also known as Lake Elwell) to the Reservation. Placement of the water treatment plant at Tiber will prevent transfer of fish species from the Marias River Basin into the Milk River Basin, and will maximize the potential service area.

Numerous off-reservation communities are members of the regional system, ***

 as a potentially cost-effective source of high quality drinking water. The problems they face include poor quality drinking water and the high cost for compliance with new federal Safe Drinking Water Act regulations. Several participating systems are currently listed on EPA's Significant Non-Compliance (SNC) list as they are in violation of the Surface Water Treatment Rule (SWTR) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). A number of other systems expect to be out of compliance unless their systems are upgraded.

The municipal and rural water systems involved in the project include: Town of Big Sandy, Town of Dutton, Hill County Water District, Loma County Water & Sewer District, North Havre County Water District, Oilmont County Water District, City of Cut Bank, City of Havre, City of Shelby, Town of Sunburst, Sweetgrass Community Water & Sewer District, and Tiber County Water District. Three other community water supply systems - Brady County Water & Sewer, Town of Chester, and the City of Conrad – are currently approved as provisional members, and will be supplied with regional water provided that the project sponsors can receive authorization for a higher project ceiling from Congress at a future date. The 22 participating water systems are;

Town of Big Sandy, City of Cut Bank, City of Havre, Town of Dutton, City of Shelby, Town of Sunburst, Town of Kevin, City of Conrad, Town of Chester, Brady County Water District, North Havre County Water District, Sweetgrass County Water District, Hill County Water District, Loma County Water District, Oilmont County Water District, Sage Creek County Water District, South Chester County Water District, Tiber County Water District, Devon Water, Inc., Galata County Water District, Riverview Colony and Eagle Creek Colony

Each of the public entities involved in the project has signed a Participation Agreement. The North Central Montana Regional Water Authority was originally created by the signing and filing of an Interlocal Agreement (since revised). The Authority is the legal entity created under Montana law to administer the non-tribal components of the regional system. The Authority will also contract for the delivery of water with private individuals and other entities such as South Chester Water Users Association, Devon Water Incorporated, and several Hutterite colonies.

The authorized cost to construct the Rocky Boy's / North Central Montana Regional Water System was $228 million in 2002 dollars. That funding authorization provides for the federal government to pay 100% of the capital costs of the tribal share of the project. Federal grants will also pay 80% of the non-tribal capital cost, which includes the incremental increase to the cost of the Core system necessitated by the increased capacity required to serve the members of the Regional Water Authority. The remaining 20% of the capital cost of the non-tribal share will be split between a grant from the State of Montana and loans to be obtained by the North Central Montana Regional Water Authority. The State's share will be funded with grants from the Treasure State Endowment Program (TSEP) Regional Water fund.

The proposed rates for the regional water system will include debt service on the local share of the construction cost, estimated at $12.5 million at the time the project was authorized, and will be shared equally among all participating systems. The proposed local share would likely be financed through the DEQ's SRF Program. The regional system will sell water wholesale to each of the participating systems. Those member entities will retain their separate identities, and will be responsible for the maintenance of their distribution system. Each system will continue to have costs associated with pumping, billing, upkeep of distribution lines, and testing. Participation in the regional system could enable each individual system to lower current O&M costs by as much as 75%. The actual rate to the individual user will be a combination of the rate charged by the Regional Water System and the rate charged by the user's existing water system.

In addition to addressing the specific quality and compliance needs of local systems, having a regional system provides further benefits. A single system allows for more efficient and manageable responses to regulatory changes. It also allows for greater certainty and efficiency in regulatory oversight. A regional water system will provide a reliable, accessible safe drinking water source within the service area. This allows for further diversification of the area's economy and for future economic growth.

A Value Engineering (VE) Study for the entire project was completed during 2003, through the cooperation of the project sponsors and the Bureau of Reclamation, and with participation from federal and state agencies. During the 2004 calendar year an EA for the project was circulated for review and comment, and a FONSI has been issued by Reclamation, under provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). A final draft of the FER was submitted to Reclamation in 2004, and following completion of their review and comment process, the FER and supporting documents were submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in March, 2005; OMB finally released the FER in March, 2006. Funds were appropriated by Congress for completion of additional studies and project design work during both Federal Fiscal 2004 & 2005. Work on various agreements amongst the Chippewa Cree Tribe, the Authority, the BIA and Reclamation has been completed, and proceeds on others.

The project received a Federal appropriation of $5.75 million from Congress for FY 2006, and those funds were used primarily for construction of an intake structure into Lake Elwell at Tiber Dam, which began in the fall of 2006, and saw completion of the vertical caisson structure and horizontal boring from the caisson out into Lake Elwell in 2007. Due to policies implemented by the 110th Congress, the project received only $400,000 under provisions of a Continuing Resolution for that funding cycle. For Federal FY08, the appropriation for this regional water project was $5.9 million.

North Central Montana Regional Water Authority

President: Larry Bonderud, City of Shelby
Vice-president: Schaud Schwarzbach, Town of Big Sandy
Secretary: Jeff Jensen, City of Havre
Treasurer: Cheryl Curry, City of Conrad
Member-at-Large: Jim Suta, City of Cut Bank
* as of September 23, 2014


http://www.rockyboynorthcentral.com/index.shtml

Contact information:
North Central Montana Regional Water Authority
P.O. Box 2456
Havre, MT 59501
(406) 945-3383 phone

The 22 participating water systems are;

Town of Big Sandy, City of Cut Bank, City of Havre, Town of Dutton, City of Shelby, Town of Sunburst, Town of Kevin, City of Conrad, Town of Chester, Brady County Water District, North Havre County Water District, Sweetgrass County Water District, Hill County Water District, Loma County Water District, Oilmont County Water District, Sage Creek County Water District, South Chester County Water District, Tiber County Water District, Devon Water, Inc., Galata County Water District, Riverview Colony and Eagle Creek Colony


Contact

PO BOX 20160

1539 11th Avenue

Helena, MT 59601

Phone 406-444-1879

Fax 406-444-6721