Hearings and Business Meetings

Sep 01 2006

01:00 PM

Full Committee Hearing- S. 3563

1 SUB Drive Havre, Montana Student Union Ballroom, Student Union Building, Montana State University 01:00 PM

The Honorable Denny Rehberg

United States Congressman

Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this oversight hearing to discuss the important rehabilitation that needs to be done to the St. Mary Diversion and Conveyance Works and the Milk River Project.  By being here today you will hopefully gain an even better understanding of the critical nature of this project.   I would additionally like to thank Senator Burns for working together with me to make this hearing happen in Havre today.


As you know, I have introduced legislation in the House, H.R. 5705, that is identical to Senator Burns' bill, in an effort to make this important project and reality. 


Over 100 years ago, the United States government recognized the benefit of agriculture production in this region and subsequently the Bureau of Reclamation made significant investments in infrastructure along the St. Mary and Milk River Basins.  Due to the flow pattern of the Milk River, an agreement was also entered into in 1921 that allocated water to both the United States and Canada.   This agreement is just one example of the importance -- not only nationally but internationally -- of this stretch of water.


However, 100 years have certainly taken a toll on these facilities.  The St. Mary's diversion is worn out and in serious need of modernization and rehabilitation.  This legislation would not only authorize the rehabilitation and improvement of the St. Mary Diversion and Conveyance Works in the best manner possible but would also ensure that we develop an emergency response plan in case the facilities should ever fail. 


The Milk River is a lifeline to northern Montana.  Our agriculture, wildlife and small communities are all dependent upon the fair and reliable delivery of water.  This project is one of the most complex Bureau of Reclamation projects in the country as it includes federal, tribal, international and state components.  With so many entities involved, it is vital that we take the necessary steps to ensure these facilities continue to work.


I look forward to hearing from the rest of our witnesses and I hope this hearing will enable us to push this critical legislation through the House and Senate.  Thank you.