It was back in 2016 when the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council (BTBC) began holding public meetings in the remote community of Heart Butte to learn what concerns and issues the residents were facing. On the receiving end, Councilman Terry Tatsey said, “The message was loud and clear on the lack of opportunity for employment and services related to health care, housing, law enforcement, fuel, groceries and utility infra-structure.”
The meetings led the BTBC to hire an architectural and engineering firm to work with Tribal Planning and the Heart Butte School District to arrive at 20-year growth possibilities for the community. In order to facilitate future growth and additional commercial buildings, they concluded Heart Butte’s community water system and storage would have to expand first.
The existing system’s core components were built around 1971, Tatsey said, with extensions and renovations occurring since then, including the pump house and well which were constructed in 1994. Serving some 120 households and the IHS clinic in Heart Butte, the system has a history of monitoring violations. In addition, Heart Butte School would like to connect to the town’s water system, creating another drain on the system.
To remedy the situation, the Tribe proposes to build a 208,000 gallon water tank on Heart Butte School’s property, along with a new pump and controls. An additional backup well would be dug, complete with 7,450 linear feet of eight-inch water mains, an auto-dialer to keep operators informed on the system status, water meters and pressure reduction valves at each connection.
Several entities are working together to pay for the project.
“As this proposed alternative is to the benefit of both the CWS and the school, a cost sharing arrangement is being developed,” Tatsey said. “Currently, Heart Butte Schools, Indian Health Service Blackfeet Service Unit, the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Reclamation Settlement Act Non-Trust Funds for Rural Water Systems have been identified to complete the projects.”
For more information, contact Terry Tatsey at 338-7179.