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'It's not good:' Houses on Crow Reservation without water for more than a week

Porta-potty outside of a house without water in Crow Agency
Posted at 5:30 PM, Nov 01, 2023

CROW AGENCY — Crow Agency has seen major water woes the past few weeks, as part of the town has been without water while renovations to the treatment plant occur.

Residents in one part of town, known as Crow housing, have been without water since Oct. 23. The water was estimated to be restored last Friday, but it will continue to be turned off until at least this Friday.

“Going on two weeks," said Brenda Pretty Weasel, a 72-year-old Crow Agency resident, on Wednesday. "It’s not good."

Brenda Pretty Weasel
Brenda Pretty Weasel

Those residents have been forced to use outhouses and bottled water for their everyday needs.

“We use the Porta-Potty. And then bathing, I have to go to my daughter’s in a different town to bathe. And that’s hard for me because I have a shower chair, and she doesn’t have one,” Pretty Weasel said. “Drinking water, they deliver drinking water and we cook with that."

Porta-potty near homes without water
Porta-potty near homes without water

According to a notice from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, restorations to the water treatment plant were scheduled from Oct. 2 to Oct. 27 with a temporary outage expected from the 23rd through the 27th. But last Friday, residents were informed the project wasn’t done, which meant the water would stay off.

BIA notice
BIA notice

MTN News stopped by the BIA on Wednesday to ask when water might be restored but no one was available to speak with us.

BIA
BIA

“It’s word of mouth," Pretty Weasel said. "They told us last Friday and then it didn’t happen. So this coming Friday they said."

In town at the Apsaalooke Trading Post, the water is still on but the pressure is low.

“A few of the people that live over close by the water tank because it’s up on a hill. And so they’re kind of without water," said George Steinmetz, the owner of the store, on Wednesday. "We’re on the low end of the water line, you might say. So even though the pressure might be low, we still got water."

George Steinmetz
George Steinmetz

Most of the town still has water and only homes in the Crow housing area, located near the water treatment plant, are currently without.

“The tribe has put water distribution places out so that people did at least have drinking water,” Steinmetz said. “I get to shower and drink a glass of water when I want so I can’t complain."

Water tank in town
Water tank in town

Frustrations are growing and so is the pressure on the BIA as residents remain unsure of when their water will be restored, arguing this wouldn’t happen in a city like Billings.

“They would be right on top of it,” Pretty Weasel said. “I wish we had better quality of life for the Native Americans. We don’t."

Porta-potty outside of a house without water in Crow Agency
Porta-potty outside of a house without water in Crow Agency