The Roundup -

Richland County Commissioners Travel To Washington D.C.


Two Richland County commissioners will be traveling to Washington D.C. to meet with President Trump’s office in regards to important state, regional, and county needs. The Roundup spoke with commissioners Duane Mitchell and Shane Gorder, about their upcoming July 18 and 19 meeting in Washington and what they hope to accomplish.

Duane Mitchell explained why the two commissioners were attending the event, saying, “We were invited by the president to come for Montana Day, something the administration has been doing for the different states. At this meeting, approximately 30 commissioners and two sheriffs will meet at the White House.”

“We are supposed to talk about the issues that affect our county,” Mitchell continued, “that they may give us assistance with. We’re talking about the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project. We’re also going to talk about the Dry-Redwater [Regional Water System], which is supposed to come out of Ft. Peck through McCone to Richland County and is supposed to get water to our area.”

The Dry-Redwater Regional Water System is a plan to help establish better rural water sources for Richland, McCone, Garfield, Dawson and Prairie Counties. The Dry-Redwater Regional Water Authority was established in 2005, and in 2014 by the request of the Richland County Commissioners, the Authority also became a wastewater collection and treatment authority. Completing the project has proven problematic, however, with current estimates for completion around 260 million dollars. The feat would be accomplished through agreements with the Army Corps of Engineers, because the intake facility would be located in the Dry Arm of the Ft. Peck Lake and, ultimately and ideally, it would become finished by funding provided by the Federal Government.

Mitchell said, “There are a lot who think we don’t need the Dry-Redwater, but I think they do need it. It’s not easy to get water in Enid, and Lambert needs it, too.”

Another project requires attention, according to Mitchell, and it’s the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program, which was created by the Flood Control Act of 1944. The project designed initiatives to prevent flooding in the Missouri Basin, while providing new infrastructure for agriculture. An agreement was reached, as a part of the Pick-Sloan program, to provide electricity at a lower amount for farmers who own land along the Yellowstone River, which flows into the Missouri River. That agreement is in jeopardy of not being renewed in a way that is helpful to Richland County landowners, who may experience a substantial increase in electricity costs.

Mitchell explained he hoped to address this with the Trump Administration, saying, “Farmers on the east side of Yellowstone since 1944 have been getting electricity through this agreement which allowed the irrigators to not pay the full rate. It’s been renewed since then, but now under someone’s interpretation, it doesn’t qualify for the program and will exponentially raise the rate of their electricity.”

When asked if he thought they would be able to see the President or perhaps just a lower-level official, Mitchell told the Roundup, “Well, the people from other states have gotten to see the Vice President, for sure. But we think we’ll be able to see the President, if for no other reason than because of the Rosendale and Tester race, and the importance of Montana this election cycle.”

Richland County Commissioner Shane Gorder, also explained his goals for the meeting, saying, “We’ll receive a private tour, get a sit-down in a conference room with perhaps the President, the Vice President and Secretary of the Interior or other staff members. I’m hoping to discuss some of the issues we face in our county.”

Gorder continued, “It’s important to see if they’re still keeping the Dry-Redwater project in the scope. That’s a project we helped start five years ago, and we hope it’s moving up in priority to be funded with federal money. I’d like to discuss the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project and the fish bypass.”


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