(Aug. 18, 2017) The Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the beginning of construction on a new multi-million dollar water treatment plant for the Rocky Boy’s/North Central Montana Regional Water System (NCMRWS) Project. The groundbreaking event was held on Friday, August 18.
The water system will provide rural, municipal, and industrial water for an estimated 30,000 people, including the entire Rocky Boy’s Reservation and residents of Chouteau, Hill, Liberty, Pondera, Teton, Glacier, and Toole Counties in Montana.
When the full water treatment plant is completed, it will have the capacity to provide 34.5 million gallons per day for the Rocky Boy’s/NCMRWS Project, which is one of the largest regional water systems in the United States. Currently the project team is working with Montana’s Congressional Delegates Senator Jon Tester, Senator Steve Daines, and Representative Greg Gianforte as well as project sponsors (Bureau of Reclamation and State of Montana) to secure funding to finish construction of the Rocky Boy’s Water Treatment Plant.
“This water treatment plant is desperately needed by the Rocky Boy’s Reservation and the 22 participating water systems involved in the Rocky Boy’s/NCMRWS because many systems in the region are struggling with water quality issues or water shortages and drought,” says Larry Bonderud, President of the North Central Montana Regional Water Authority.
The plant will be constructed on a high bluff that overlooks the Tiber Reservoir, the plant’s water source. The Chippewa Cree Tribe compacted 10,000 annual acre-feet of water rights to the Tiber Reservoir with the Federal Government and the State of Montana in the 1990’s. The height of the bluff will allow the plant to use gravity to deliver treated water via underground pipelines to the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, located nearly 60 miles to the east.
“This is a big step forward for the Tribe and our Non-Tribal partners through the Rocky Boy’s/NCMRWS Project. This water plant will allow us to provide the most basic human need – drinking water – to people who have been living with water restrictions for years. This is truly something to celebrate,” says Harlan Baker, Chairman of the Chippewa Cree Tribe.