Welcome to CMRWA
Benjamin Franklin was quoted in Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1746 as saying, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.”
A number of communities in Central Montana can certainly relate to Franklin’s words. Good and plentiful water is not a luxury for many and the long-standing drought of recent years only worsened the plague. Central Montana RC&D staff are working closely with Central Montana Regional Water Authority (CMRWA) in its quest to provide a municipal water source - the Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System. Central Montana RC&D Coordinator Monty Sealey is the group's project administrator. CMRWA hopes that its project will solve these water problems, which could have an added benefit of injecting life into stagnant economies.
CMRWA defined the following as benefits of this regional project.
- Residents and communities will not absorb the costs of upgrading numerous smaller water facilities to keep up with water quality standards;
- A greater number of regional system users defrays the cost of individual communities upgrading their own facilities;
- This system will provide jobs, not only during construction, but also for ongoing operation and maintenance;
- Total water consumption by all communities will be substantially less than if each community provides water treatment;
- A dependable, high-quality drinking water source provides an incentive for business and industry to consider relocation to Central Montana;
- An alternative water source for domestic livestock use.
The regional water system would consist of a core transmission line of about 230 some miles, that could supply water for communities from Hobson, south to Judith Gap and Harlowton, east to serve Ryegate, Lavina, Broadview, Roundup and Melstone. The line would provide municipal water for about 5,800 residents intially, and eventually service about 7,500 if these communities grow. The project will also serve interested rural customers along the route.
In 2007, CMRWA received a water right for 300 gallons per minute on the Utica test well, with water from the Madison Aquifer. Conversion of the test well to a production well, and the drilling of a second production well, will provide approximately 1,200 gallons per minute. In all it’s anticipated that the project will need three or four wells. Other alternative well sites were considered by Great West Engineering through its contract with CMRWA. The group wants to find the most economical way to provide plentiful and high quality water to the communities along the CMRWA route. After a thorough analysis, Great West recommended a production well site about six miles northwest of Judith Gap.
Although this project may at first glance seem ambitious, a regional approach for water is fiscally responsible since it will be cost prohibitive for each of the communities to comply with federal mandates imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency through the Safe Drinking Water Act.
CMRWA’s project is one of several regional water projects in the State of Montana seeking federal funds. The Montana DNRC has appropriated funding for the project for several years now, and has also granted $300,000 towards the drilling of a production well (the project has been put on hold as CMRWA seeks matching funds.)
From the beginning, project organizers have said that this project would not be completed in a short time frame, but rather, in seven to ten years. Will the wait be worth it? The answer is a resounding “yes” if you ask CMRWA board members!