Butte officials use folk festival to educate about Berkeley Pit and drinking water

Posted at 1:24 PM, Jul 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-12 15:24:40-04

BUTTE – With thousands of people expected to visit Butte this weekend for the Montana Folk Festival, it’s a good chance to showcase positive things about the Mining City.

“So, it’s to take the negatives and to turn them into positives,” said Maria Pochervina, director of the Butte Convention and Visitor Bureau.

The group Butte Elevated was formed to highlight the good parts of Butte and to dispel misconceptions about the city, including its large Superfund site and the Berkeley Pit.

“We have the Berkeley Pit, that’s not drinkable water, but we have some of the cleanest water in the state of Montana with the Basin Creek treatment plant, water treatment facility,” said Pochervina.

Members of the group Pit Watch are at the Berkeley Pit Viewing Stand this week to educate visitors stopping in Butte for the festival about the pit and the cleanup efforts.

“And we’ve seen in the conversations we’ve had here just over the last couple hours that it was a good idea, we’re teaching people and telling people things that they didn’t know,” said Pit Watch member Matt Vincent.

Some visitors think the message is getting out and Butte’s future looks positive.

“There’s a lot of things to do here in the town and out of town if you just want to get lost in the woods of the mountains, that’s easy to do too. I think it’s going to grow. I don’t think it’s going to get smaller,” said Brett Lewis of Thompson Falls.

With so many people passing visiting the view stand, officials hope to make some sort of museum about the cleanup effort, because Butte’s future in mining will be about reclamation.

“We’ve been the Mining City since we were born, we’ll be the environmental remediation and management city for that long too. We’ve restored and repaired and managed things here on a scale that is equal to the scale at which it was mined,” said Vincent.

-Reported by John Emeigh/MTN News