Havre Daily News
BIG SANDY - Residents here considered wastewater collection and treatment options, beautification projects and Big Sandy's needs at a community meeting Tuesday night.
Engineer Mitch Stelling of Stelling Engineers in Great Falls and Annmarie Robinson of Bear Paw Development Corp. joined Mayor Daren Schuster at the meeting, attended by about 20 residents.
The Big Sandy City Council is looking into its options to change the wastewater system and make sure the infrastructure is in good condition for the future, Schuster said.
Stelling said the collection and treatment systems now used by the city are worn out.
Wastewater is now disinfected and discharged in Big Sandy Creek, but changes in state regulations mean the city in 2010 will have to find a new place to dispose of it.
A new chlorination station is under construction, Schuster said.
Stelling Engineers Inc. was hired to assess storage lagoons and possible new treatment and collection practices. Stelling said he should have a draft of the preliminary engineering report in the next few weeks, in time for upcoming grant deadlines.
The engineer said the system will work for another five years, but the town needs upgrade options.
Options include irrigation wastewater treatment, which will cost about $1.7 million, and total retention and evaporation treatment, which comes with a $2.7-million price tag, Stelling said.
The town now uses aeration lagoons that will cost $400,000 to redo.
“The pump station is shot and needs to be completely replaced. You've got five years on the lagoons,” Stelling said.
Robinson said the next step will be income surveys. The results from the surveys can be used to help apply for grants. She said the town is looking at 2008 for the earliest construction.
Robinson compiled a “wish list” for the town, which included the need for housing and water.
Schuster said the town's wells are failing.
“We're in dire straits here. There's no mistaking it,” he said. “Four or five failed in the last few years. We're oh-for-five. We're not batting too good.”
Robinson said water is available but the soil is sandy, which makes it difficult to collect water.
“There's a ton of good water there. We just can't get to it,” Schuster said.
Robinson said the Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana Regional Water System is “a ways away” from supplying water to Big Sandy.
Stelling said one of the problems with town's water system is that the infrastructure is a “hodgepodge” of new and old pipes, some dating back to the 1920s.
Beautification project coordinator Marlys Bitz said a resource development team surveyed the town's needs about three years ago and decided to concentrate on water and beautification.
She said the town has about $15,000 for the improvements that will include new signs, paint and awnings for businesses. The project team will also be applying for grants.
Bitz said she wants the remodeling to give the community a “renewed sense of pride.”
Annual cleanup efforts also are in the works, she said.
Schuster said another concern is the need for housing and the limited number of available lots.
“A couple of years ago, 40 to 50 houses were for sale and now it's down to about three,” he said.
The mayor said people would move to the town if housing was available, especially with the economic boom in Havre that includes the addition of a Wal-Mart supercenter and other projects.
“Daren is right. The road between Havre and Big Sandy is getting more traffic,” Robinson said.
Schuster said another meeting will be held in April. He urges people to fill out the surveys and attend the next gathering.