Chippewa Cree Tribe Marks Substantial Completion

The Bureau of Reclamation, Great Plains Region

Media Contact: Jay Eagleman, (406) 395-4225
Terry Zontek , (406) 247-7606

For Release: September 20, 2005

The Chippewa Cree Tribe will host a Substantial Completion Observance of the Bonneau Dam Enlargement Project on Thursday September 22, 2005. Festivities are scheduled to begin at 10:00 am on the project site located about eight miles east of the town of Box Elder on the Rocky Boys Indian Reservation.

The project, as authorized by the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boys Reservation Indian Reserved Water Rights Settlement and Water Supply Enhancement Act of 1999 (P.L.106-163), enables the tribe to plan, design and construct a number of on-Reservation water development projects. The Bonneau Dam Project started in June of 2003. The project addressed several structural deficiencies while developing a reservoir storage capacity of 4000 acre-feet of water.

The Tribe and the Bureau of Reclamation, through a self-governance agreement under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (P.L. 93-638), manage the on-reservation water development projects. Reclamation provides construction oversight, design review and approval, as well as technical assistance on the projects. The Chippewa Cree Construction Company, a Tribally-owned construction enterprise, is doing the construction. The Bonneau Dam enlargement project was originally estimated to cost $13 million, but the Tribe was able to build the project for considerably less.

The Bureau of Reclamation's Great Plains Regional Director Mike Ryan said, "Reclamation is very pleased with the association and working relationship we have had with the Tribe on this project."

He added, "The project sets the standard for the other water resource development projects under the reserved water rights settlement act."

Bruce Sunchild, Vice Chairman of the Chippewa Cree Tribe stated, "The success of the Bonneau project showcases the commitment of the Tribe to build a better future for the coming generations. We are pleased to have developed a model Government-to-Government relationship that benefits the Chippewa Cree people as well as the North Central Region. A special thanks goes to the working hands of the Chippewa Cree Construction Company."

Bureau of Indian Affairs Rocky Mountain Regional Director Keith Beartusk, expressed pleasure with the completion of the Bonneau Dam enlargement project. He said, "Completion of the project is a great example of Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton's 4C's, communication, consultation and cooperation, all in the service of conservation, at work. The success of the project is attributable to the strong working relationship that developed among the various parties involved and the spirit of cooperation that evolved."

Beartusk added, "The Chippewa Cree Tribe should be especially proud of this accomplishment, as should the working partners, including the Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, contractors, suppliers and the operators and laborers. The project is a testament to what water rights negotiations and implementation can do and it exemplifies how P.L. 93-638 does work."

He concluded, "I am very pleased with this project; it was constructed by the Tribe, it provides them water, it was one of the largest civil engineering projects in the entire state of Montana, and I could not be more proud of the Tribe's accomplishment."


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