The Choteau City Council last week heard an engineer with Great West Engineering outline the big problems with the city’s wastewater collection system and ways to fix those problems.

The engineer recommended a two-phased project costing more than $2.8 million. That’s a big chunk of change, but this investment in the city’s infrastructure is greatly needed and will only build on the improvements done over the past 20-plus years.

The first phase of the project, proposed for 2020-21, would cost about $1.3 million and would replace about 5,400 linear feet of sewer mains, ranging in size from six inches to 15 inches in diameter, mostly located on the northeast side of Choteau.

Some of the pipe in that section of town is made of vitrified clay and dates back to 1914. The pipes have been damaged by tree roots and there are broken joints, shattered sections,

leaking residential sewer service line connections and other problems. These breaks are allowing an amazing amount of groundwater to flow into the city’s sewer system, occasionally exceeding the capacity of the treatment plant, require the city to have an overflow holding pond and, in the spring, backing up into people’s basements.

For the health and safety of Choteau’s current residents and to make sure our town can accommodate population growth in the future, this project needs to be done. The upside is that the city’s current sewer service rates can very likely accommodate the $2 to $3 per month per account needed to pay off the debt of loans over time. The Choteau City Council should approve this project and move forward with securing the needed funding and securing the city’s future.