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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

New Law Requires Colstrip Owners To Study Town Water Supply

The Colstrip coal-fired power plant seen across the Castle Rock reservoir, which holds water the power plant owners contracted to transport for the city of Colstrip, taken on April 15, 2021.
Kayla Desroches
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
The Colstrip coal-fired power plant seen across the Castle Rock reservoir, which holds water the power plant owners contracted to transport for the city of Colstrip, taken on April 15, 2021.

The owners of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant are now required to study how the city of Colstrip will keep its supply of drinking water if the plant ever shuts down.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed that requirement into law Wednesday.

Colstrip relies on the power plant owners to transport drinking water over 30 miles from the Yellowstone River.

Town Mayor John Williams stood in front of the legislature this year to ask for help in securing that flow if the plant closes

“We are very dependent upon that source of water for our town supply.”

Senate Bill 87 requires the power plant owners to study the steps the city can take to continue accessing its water supply for up to thirty years following closure of the plant.

NorthWestern Energy has said it will stay at the plant until 2042 at least, but other owners have indicated earlier exit dates as states like Washington and Oregon transition away from coal fired power.

The owners’ deadline to submit the study is November 2022.

Copyright 2021 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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