Montana State Rural Development Director, Kathleen Williams visited Choteau on Thursday, November 16th to monitor the progress of the first phase of construction on a new water supply system.
“We work really closely with lots of cities and towns in Montana, especially the ones that have a limited tax base that can't afford to pay for things like this on their own,” says Williams.
10,800 feet of subterranean water lines are being added to improve water and waste disposal systems. The old lines, made of cast-iron are being replaced with 8-inch PVC piping which will help reduce the number of sewage back flow events.
Much of Choteau’s piping has been around since the early 20th century. Funding for the installation of pipes was secured in-part by the USDA who secured $618,000 and $2,000,0000 in loans followed by grants of $398,000 and $1,042,000. The rest of the funding was secured by applicant contribution, American Rescue Plan accounts (ARPA), and the Renewable Resource Grant and Loan Program (RRGL).
The installation of pipes is just the first of a two-phase project. The second phase of the project is the installation of a brand-new water storage tank. The new tank will hold up to 1 million gallons. The city previously relied on two separate tanks which hold 750,000 gallons between them.
The USDA also funded the storage tank through a loan guarantee of $2,500,000 and a grant of $4,093,000. Additional funding was secured through applicant contribution, the RRGL, and the Montana Coal Endowment Program.
Mike Maples, Choteau’s Public Works Director, says water waste is a key part of the problem. “Water loss has been an issue probably for the last 25 years at least,” says Maples.
On the old system, the city estimates they lose millions of gallons of water per month, with as much as 50% of what is pumped going back into the ground.
The total cost of the two project phases is just north of $16,000,000, but through generous funding and interest rates of no higher than 2.25%, nearly 1,700 residents will benefit from safe, efficient water supplied directly to them.
“We're super happy to be involved with all the other partners and help Choteau have a reliable, affordable water supply," says Williams.
Other partners involved in the project are the Montana DNRC, Montana SRF, The Montana Department of Commerce, Great West Engineering, and Prospect Construction.