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

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

Water issues discussed at town hearing


February 28, 2018

The Town of Whitehall hosted a special public hearing last week to obtain input about community development needs.

Jason Crawford, a Civil Engineer at Kadrmas Lee & Jackson currently working with the town, said they are considering applying for a Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) as well as other grants. Crawford stated the Town of Whitehall is looking for the public comments and community development needs like infrastructure, economic development potentials, and housing needs, and what the priority of those might be. He said funding agencies really like to see that the public is involved in the process.

Much of the public concern at the meeting dealt with obtaining funds to address the uranium issues in the Town Water Supply.

Crawford said the next step in Town’s compliance plan with the Department of Environmental Quality is to prepare a Preliminary Engineering Report. In an April Meeting, Fess Foster, a retired geologist and environmental consultant working with the town said the water supply exceeds the state mandated guideline of 30 parts per billion, with one well running up to 43 ug/l. Foster stated at the 2017 meeting they would either have to find a replacement water source or build a water treatment facility. He estimated that would cost roughly $1.5 million to build and over $100,000 a year for operation and maintenance.

Crawford said last week the Town has been above the acceptable DEQ level since 2015, and they are requiring them to address the issue.

Town Clerk/Treasurer Summer Fellows said that any grants the town would receive would go away, and stressed concerns about the cost of operating a treatment center.

Crawford said part of the PER is to develop operation and maintenance costs and look at long-term costs. He said the CBDG Grant would be maxed out at $450,000 and requires a 25 percent match from the town.

He said a grant from the Treasure State Endowment Program maxes out at $750,000, but requires the town to match that amount. He said the town’s need for the grants is pretty significant because the DEQ is mandating this gets taken care of and they should rank high in priority, but they will not know anything till the Montana State Legislature meets in 2019. He said if the Town is awarded grant funding, they could put a design in process in the fall of 2019 and begin construction in 2020. He said the DEQ has approved this schedule to address the water issues. that is based on the funding cycle for grant,

Crawford added the town could also make a good case for a Rural DNRC grant.

Mayor Mary Janacaro-Hensleigh and local resident Tom Harrington both addressed concerns about water drainage issues. Janacaro-Hensleigh said other than people coming into the Town Office to talk about dogs, water drainage issues are the biggest thing they hear about, and it has become a real safety hazard. Harrington said drainage issues by the Whitehall Community Center as well as other places.


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