Chippewa Cree Tribe Implements Water, Irrigation, Fire Restrictions

Chippewa Cree Tribe Implements Water, Irrigation, Fire Restrictions

Source: KXLH
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By: Keeley Van Middendorp – MTN News

Rocky Boy Rural Water System officials say the hot, dry weather is forcing the department to implement outdoor water restrictions.

The system serves more than 600 homes and 20 businesses, including the Stone Child College, Justice Center, Bonneau Village, Middle Dry Fork, all Box Elder villages, Lower Road, Duck Creek, St. Pierre Road, and Upper and Lower Buttercup.

Tribal Water Resources Director Dustin White says it’s been seven years since major restrictions were put in place.

He says area residents are encouraged to conserve all outdoor water including staying away from sprinklers, refraining from filling up swimming pools and avoiding washing cars.

White says the water restrictions will likely remain in place through the remainder of the summer, adding the area’s water supply is limited, which makes it harder for storage when temperatures are breaking heat records.

“Right now our water source tank, we’ve only got like 4 feet of water in one of our tanks, and 8 feet in another one, typical full pool is about 24 feet so we’re less than 25% full on most of our water tanks right now,” said White.

The department also oversees the Irrigation Division on the Rocky Boy Reservation.

This week, TWRD officials put restrictions on the irrigation of croplands along with outdoor water.

White says Bonneau Dam is currently 14 feet below full pool and normal operations; the dam irrigates roughly 2,400 acres of tribal farmland.

He says they are reducing water to irrigation pivots on 1,200 to 1,400 acres of alfalfa fields.

The Chippewa Cree Tribe also implemented a Stage 1 burn ban throughout the Reservation.

The Tribe will be working with Hill and Choteau counties along with federal agencies to determine when a state of emergency will be issued for the area.

White says it’s not an issue of “if” but “when”, as temperatures are predicted to remain dry and hot in the Box Elder area for the next two weeks.

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