The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

Governing body hires firm to complete PER

 

November 15, 2017



After a lengthy discussion about the ongoing uranium issues the town water supply, the Whitehall Council voted Monday night to hire Jason Crawford of Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson to complete a Preliminary Engineering Report due next year. The Council also voted for Crawford and the Helena-based firm to complete a grant funding application.

Crawford told the governing body that the PER will be fairly comprehensive, and should be started sooner than later. He said he could probably complete both the PER and application for $30,000.

Fess Foster, a retired geologist and environmental consultant who has been working with the town on the uranium issue spoke in detail about work being done to find alternative wells in the area.

Foster said the current town water supply exceeds the state mandated guideline of 30 parts per billion, with one well running up to 43 ug/l. He said they either have to find a replacement water source or build a water treatment facility that would cost roughly $1.5 million and cost over $100,000 a year for operation and maintenance.

Foster discussed three possible locations for alternative wells that included the “North Bench”, “East of Town”, and “Pipestone Creek Aquifer”.

Foster presented Council members with a map that showed the “North Bench” has sample results that showed between 0 to 10 ug/l of uranium, however the best volume in that location is 100 gallons a minute, adding the peak load for the town currently is 1,000 gallons a minute. He said they would like to find several in the area that are 300 to 400 a minute.

In the “East of Town” location, Foster said the results are mixed with some low and some moderate uranium numbers.

Foster said they need to do more sampling in the “Pipestone Creek Aquifer” area, but will have to wait until they have warmer months. He said an engineering firm out of Great Falls was supposed to be doing the sampling work and they were not.

Resident Larry Feight expressed concern about the water tables being pulled down at the “East of Town” locations.

Foster said they don’t want to impact existing wells, adding if it did impact the water levels they would have to stop using the well.

Foster said if someone one had an existing well that was suitable the town would have to pay them for their water rights

Foster said that the bottom line is that it is going to be tough to find a replacement water supply, but could still be possible. He said ideally they could find someone who has a high volume well or wells.

If the town is unable to find an alternate source, Crawford said an ideal situation would be for grant funding to pay for three-quarters of a treatment plant, adding the town has a good case for funding.

The PER is due May 15, 2018.

 

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