The May 26-27 flood event on the Teton River did no harm to the city of Choteau’s water and sewer systems, but high inflows into the city’s wastewater treatment plant did force the city to discharge from the lagoon, city Public Works Director Mike Maples told the City Council at its June 4 meeting.
Maples said the inflows into the treatment facility in March were around 500,000 to 600,000 gallons per day. The spring snowstorm and rain in April caused a peak up to 1.8 million gallons per day flowing into the plant. After that, inflows fell down to around 1 million gallons per day and then peaked sharply again May 26 and 27 at an estimated 2 million gallons per day.
Since then, he said, the flows are coming down again. From April 15-30, Maples said, the city had to bypass the treatment plant, sending flows into the lagoon, and then had to discharge from the lagoon. The lagoon reached capacity on May 22 and the city has been discharging from the lagoon again into the Teton River.
Samples from the discharge effluent from April 15 to 30 for biologic oxygen demand, total suspended solids and E. coli have all met the city’s discharge permit levels as set by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Maples said. The city is awaiting testing results from May 28 and June 3.
Maples said he plans to follow up with Teton County floodplain administrator and planner, Paul Wick, about working with the county to find a way to keep water from the flooding Teton River from coming east and potentially swamping the city’s Richem well site. The flood water did not reach the Richem well site in May, he said, but the potential for a larger flood to do so should be discussed and addressed.
Maples said there are several construction projects going on in Choteau this spring. The sidewalk installation project on Seventh Avenue Northwest has started, he said. The contractor broke ground last week, and the work is slated to be completed by July 8. The project is causing the narrowing of Seventh Avenue and there are some detours.
Maples said the city removed four semi-mature trees along the sidewalk route, which will run from the Choteau High School parking lot north for four blocks to the intersection with Seventh Street Northwest.
The city crew relocated all four trees to different city boulevards and parks.
The second big project is slated to break ground on June 10 as a contractor will begin excavation at the city’s water tanks above Choteau to open up the concrete vaults that hold the valves for the water tanks. Those valves need to be repaired or replaced.
This project will disrupt water service for the Country Club, the Joint City-County Airport and the County Shop, Maples said. They will be notified and he hopes the disruption won’t be longer than three hours.
Another construction project, 3 Rivers Communications’ fiber optics cable installation throughout Choteau, has involved the city crew, Maples said, as the city has been busy with utility location work. This project is disturbing alleys throughout town, he said, and the city will work with the contractor to apply new gravel, grade and compact all the alleys so that they are in better condition than when the project began.
Maples said the city crew has removed one un-used railroad crossing on Third Street Northeast and two on First Street Southeast, grinding the old ship seal, grading the former crossings and compacting the roadway.
On a different matter, the City Council and Mayor Dan Lannen recognized Choteau City Clerk and Finance Officer Jodi Rogers, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award in May from the Montana Municipal Clerks, Treasurers and Finance Officers Association.
Rogers was nominated by members of the association, who said Rogers, a veteran 23-year clerk who is revered by the membership for her commitment to education of other clerks through her membership on the association’s Education Committee and for her willingness to help new clerks and finance officers with issues such as budgeting, brainstorming and required reporting.
“It’s an honor,” Rogers said. “I was given this by my peers. It means a lot.”
The Council unanimously approved a resolution recognizing Rogers for this honor.
In other business, the Council:
•Approved an application from Choteau Lions swim team to restrict traffic on First Avenue Northwest by the swimming pool for June 22-23, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., during an invitational swim meet.
•Reviewed a letter from Steel Etc. in Great Falls, saying that the company can no longer pay the city for recycled cardboard because the current market price for cardboard is so low. But, the company will continue to pick up Choteau’s cardboard recycling for no charge. This benefits the city because it continues to divert the cardboard from the Northern Montana Joint Refuse Disposal District landfill. The recycling company is continuing to pay minimal amounts for recycled aluminum and iron. Rogers said that when the cardboard market was up, the city was receiving $20,000 a year for cardboard recycling that helped fund the city’s garbage collection service.
•Heard from Rogers that the city’s budget committee will need to consider raising rates for garbage collection service. The city’s rates of $8.57 or $6.43 a month for once weekly pickup have not been raised since 2006. The process will entail mailing notices to all customers, first and second readings and a public hearing and will take about six weeks to accomplish. The rate increase would go into effect 30 days after the Council passes it.
•Approved a new one-year lease for the Choteau Community Garden. Garden organizer Mariah Russell requested the renewal and gave the Council a review of the first season of operating. She said the garden was operated by just a handful of people and it grew potatoes, beans, peas, onions, tomatoes, beets, radishes, sunflowers, lettuce, squash and carrots. She distributed the food through contacts with churches and organizations and said the Teton County Food Pantry did not need any of the garden’s produce because of donations it receives from area Hutterite colonies. This year, she said, she plans to apply for a grant through the state’s Farm to School program and hopes to get fresh produce from the garden into the Choteau school breakfast and lunch program. She said several businesses supported the garden, including Front Range Supply that donated seed potatoes last year and this year. As far as volunteers, Russell said she could use a few more helpers to weed and pick rocks, to tighten up the fence and to finish planting. The city will again provide the water for the garden, and Maples said he will be putting in a water line for the garden this season. Last season, the garden was watered from a nearby fire hydrant.
•Reviewed the May zoning permit report. Zoning permits were issued to: Julia Ameline, 325 Fourth Ave. N.E., garage; Edward Bumgarner, 27 Fourth Ave. S.W., deck, etc.; Scott Hadlock, 6 10th Ave. N.E., fence; Connie Smith, 30 Third Ave. S.W., deck/stairwell; and Chad Bouma, 24 Main Ave. N., remodeling of the former Teton Nursing Home.