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April 28 Headlines
Home destroyed by early morning fire; homeowner hospitalized Hooper Park deemed public water supply; purification requirements delay new restroom Lincoln High senior awarded $23,000 GEAR UP Scholarship Beyond transparency, we need accountability Meet your Lincoln School Board candidates Lincoln Student let their hair down in MCT’s Rapunzel
High School art students from Great Falls tour Sculpture in the Wild The river hadn’t changed This is Montana: GARNET OFFERS Montana’S BEST Preserved ghost town Weed Awareness: Leafy Spurge
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Hooper Park deemed public water supply; purification requirements delay new restroom
State and federal water quality requirements have pushed the installation of a new restroom facility for Hooper Park back until September at the earliest. When Lewis and Clark County commissioners announced last November that a grant and matching funds had been approved for a new building, the expectation was that it would be in place before the start of this year’s summer season. However, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality deemed the park a regulated public water source, which under both federal and state guidelines requires installation of a water purification system. Montana DEQ defines a public water source as a system that regularly serves 25 persons daily for any 60 or more days in a calendar year, or that has at least 15 service connections. Ron Drake with Drake Engineering, Inc., the engineering company contracted by Lewis and Clark County to design the chlorine purification system, explained the requirement stems from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Surface Water Treatment Rule. “Because it’s drawing water from a source that’s within 25 feet of the surface, federal laws - and state law following the feds - require there to be a disinfection system,” he said. “We’ve looked at a lot of water samples out of Lincoln and we can’t see any problem with the water there at all. We don’t get to call it. The state gets to call it.” Something of a good old-fashioned Catch 22 also complicates the situation. On one hand, the county can’t push for the restroom’s installation until the water supply system is approved, but on the other hand the water supply system can’t be submitted for approval until the final configuration of the restroom building is established. “It’s a question of where we locate them with the building,” he said. “We can’t finalize the system design until we have a building floor plan, but we know all the elements that need to go in there.” According to Edwards, the contract for the new restroom won’t go out for bid until July. The county is planning to buy a prefabricated facility, but each vendor has a different floor plan, she said. Specifications for the new building include a minimum of two rooms that include a toilet, urinal, sink, stainless steel mirror and shower, plus a utility room for the shower water heaters and water purification system. “That’s our minimum. If it’s within our budget we will gladly take more,” Edwards said, but added the the ultimate concern will be the budget for the facility. “We can’t exceed the budget. Obviously, we want a lot more than we’re probably going to get.” Drake explained that once the system design is complete it would go to the state for approval. The state has 60 days to review the design and submit comments to the engineering company. The company has 30 days to make adjustments and resubmit it to the state, which then has another 30-day review window. Despite the fact the design and approval process could, in the worst-case scenario, stretch into November or December the news isn’t all bad, considering DEQ could have prevented the park from opening until the water purification system is complete. “We have been given approval that we open for the summer with the water the way it is,” Edwards said. “It will just require weekly testing.” Additionally, Drake said MTDEQ approved a deviation allowing use of the existing well as the primary water source. “We did put in a deviation to allow us to actually use that well. Within a hundred feet of that well there is a sewer line and waste water facilities, and as a consequence the state said ‘hey you can’t use that well.’ We submitted a deviation asking to use that well and the state approved it,” Drake said. “We were afraid for a while they were going to require you poor people to dig a new well and complete a new well according to their new regs, which would have put the whole project way out of bounds as far as costs.” As it is, the final cost of the chlorination system is a concern since the grant funding only covers the new building. “They’re looking for money within the county,” said Lincoln Park Board Chairman Nyle Howsmon, who said the anticipated final cost is expected to be around $9000. Drake said they haven’t finalized the total cost due to the uncertainty about the building’s final layout, but the “pieces and parts” alone are expected to run about $5000. “Things are kind of up in the air yet for what we can do,” Howsmon said. “We’ve done everything we can to push it. We have to get a building layout then we can finalize our plans and get them in to the state within a couple days. We’re all ready to go, and have been ready to go for two months. It’s just a matter of the county. . . deciding on what they want for a building there.”