Havre Daily News
Hill County Water District costs may drop or rise, depending on how many communities join the district in the Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana Regional Water System.
Rural water manager Calvin Thelen of North Dakota-based Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services Inc. met with the district's board Tuesday and presented the estimated water rates once the regional system is up and running.
Users can expect to pay anywhere from $1.10 to $2.39 per 1,000 gallons once the district taps into the regional system, Thelen said.
A public meeting will be held June 7 at 6 p.m. at the Hi-Line Insurance Agency in Hingham to discuss the water system and answer questions.
Hill County users now pay a $40 base rate and $1.75 per 1,000 gallons. With the regional system, the base rate may stay the same. The board will set the base rate for users, Thelen said.
If the system gets full regional participation, users will pay $1.10. With full regional participation with supplemental usage, the cost will be $1.53 per 1,000 gallon. The costs will rise to $2.65 per 1,000 gallons if the system has moderate participation.
Water costs also will vary in the county water district, which provides water to 672 users, with surcharges collected by each community.
District board chair Dave Jones said he thought the presentation went well and the regional
system sounds like a good option for the district.
“I think it will satisfy the users,” Jones said.
In January, the Hill County Water District board approved a plan to install a $1.12 million water filtration system to use until the district can connect to the regional water system. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing the final plans for the new treatment system and the project should go to bid in July, Jones said. The plant is set to be up and running by November, he said.
The filtration system will be paid for with a federal grant the Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana Regional Water Authority transferred to the water district, along with a loan. The regional water authority originally applied for the grant to pay for piping and easements to connect the county water district with the larger system. But the regional water authority decided to use it instead to help the district comply with a state order to install a filtration system. Since 1994, the county district has been under an state administrative order to connect to the Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana Regional Water System.
The county district will install a membrane filtration system, in which water passes through synthetic wound fibers to remove contaminants. The district will continue disinfecting the water with chlorine, which is how the water is treated now, after the membrane treatment. The membrane treatment does not require the use of chemicals to remove particles. DEQ issued a boil order in the district on Aug. 4 after a random sample of district water found E. coli and coliform bacteria, indicators of animal or human fecal matter. E. coli can cause a flu-like illness. A boil order is still in effect for district users who live within a two-mile radius of the Kremlin chlorination site because there isn't sufficient time to kill all of the bacteria before it reaches nearby users.
Thelen said the estimated timeline for the regional system is to begin construction on the water intake at Lake Elwell in September. He said the deadline for signing up to be a part of the system is July 1.
The design of the regional system's water treatment plant will be determined by the number of communities who participate. The plan is to stretch the system from the north to the Canadian border, south to Dutton and west to Cut Bank.
Congress approved the project with a $229 million price tag in 2002 but inflation and the rising costs for materials have brought the number to about $267 million. The federal government will pay for 90 percent of the system. The project received $5.75 million from Congress last year, Thelen said. This year, it has requested more than $32 million.