Feds halt funding for $361M pipeline

BOX ELDER, Mont. (AP) - Federal officials have temporarily stopped funding a $361 million water pipeline for a Native American reservation in Montana after learning that millions of project dollars went missing.

Michael Ryan of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says Chippewa Cree tribal leaders have replaced the missing money. But he says federal funding for the pipeline won't resume until they show they have permanently fixed accounting and other problems.

Congress approved the project to bring reliable drinking water to the poverty-stricken reservation in northern Montana.

It's unclear what effect the funding delay will have on pipeline construction, which is nearly a quarter complete.

Tribal officials said in a statement Saturday that they are actively working with the federal agency on the issues raised by Ryan.

Kenneth Blatt St. Marks, a former tribal chairman, said the irregularities are among several alleged corruption issues on the Rocky Boy's reservation.

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