The town of Twin Bridges is wrapping up two different public utilities projects that began last summer and will allow the opportunity for growth in the town.
While the project to upgrade and expand the wastewater treatment plant got under way just last summer, the plan for it began almost five years ago with a study by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. The study showed that the wastewater facility was operating at maximum capacity, and the town would need to address the issue in order to accommodate growth.
After researching the feasibility and cost of upgrading the wastewater treatment system the town elected to go with a non-discharge option that would use the processed wastewater for nearby irrigation instead of putting it back into the local rivers and streams.
The wastewater treatment system is operated under a permit issued by the DEQ and the town must operate within that permit, said Sam Novich, operations and maintenance manager for Twin Bridges.
“At that point in time, the scenario was we didn’t have a lot of room for growth at all,” Novich said of the DEQ study. “In fact, we were maxed out.”
Because the improvements to the wastewater system were essentially required by the federal government, the town applied for multiple grants to fund the project. Money for the project came from a Community Development Block Grant, the Treasure State Endowment Program, the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loans as well as funds from the local community.
In addition to the wastewater project, the town also installed water meters in order to calculate local residents’ water usage more accurately and bill them accordingly. The meters are located underground at the curb stops, said Mayor Thomas Hyndman.
“In order to be fair we decided to put it on every tap in town,” Hyndman said of the water meters. “We used to meter it just by the size of the line coming into the houses.”
The contractor for the water meters project was C Davies Enterprises out of Butte. Novich said work on that project essentially finished in September. Installation of the water meters began in July and was pretty much wrapped up by the end of September, Novich said.
Hyndman said that while the project was essentially a requirement, it is ultimately a benefit to the community.
“They wanted us to put water meters in if we wanted to continue to get grant money from the federal government,” said Hyndman. “We wanted to put as many as we could where it was feasible, in the ground on the city property, so we didn’t have to go underneath everybody’s houses or on their property. We like to have it out there where we can access it.”
The contractor for the wastewater project was Smith Construction out of Whitehall. That project began last May but was temporarily put on hold for the winter when the ground water froze in late November. Novich said the contractor would address some minor punch list items to finish the project this spring.
Hyndman described both the wastewater and water meter projects as vitally important for the future of the community.
“It’s something that we needed to be able to grow,” Hyndman said. “All these towns are having to upgrade, and it’s just making it tough on our little communities to keep up with what the federal government wants, but we’re trying our best.”