Residents on both sides of Spring Creek in Choteau are reporting groundwater in their basements, city Public Works Director Mike Maples said on Monday. The city is trying to map out where groundwater in homes is occurring and is asking homeowners to fill out a basement flooding reporting form.
Maples said the form is available on the city website at choteaumt.org and is also available at the city office.
The simple form asks for the location of the home, a description of the flooding and dates of when the flooding began, whether it’s an annual occurrence or whether it has happened in the past as well.
Maples said he wants to map the problem to see whether any pattern emerges. He is talking with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the Teton River Water Distribution Project chief water commissioner to see whether a groundwater study can be done here to determine whether changes in irrigation uses on the Teton River or other factors are impacting groundwater beneath the city.
Maples said homeowners are not supposed to connect sump pumps to the city’s wastewater system, but in the middle of winter, he realizes they don’t have many options.
But, if the high groundwater continues and the number of homes shunting sump pumps into the sewer system grows, the higher flows into the system could results in sewage backing up in people’s basements. With what he thinks are a number of sump pumps running, daily inflow in to the water treatment plant has exceeded 970,000 gallons a day.
With that high of a flow, he said, the city is having to divert some of the influent into the lagoon while running the treatment plant at capacity with the majority of the inflow.
In addition to sump pump input, Maples said he has identified there more sewer lateral pipes that have leaks in them and need to be lined. He has requested the federal Rural Development agency to allow the city to use money leftover from the mechanical treatment plant project to get those pipes lined with plastic, and he is waiting for a reply from the funding agency.