Tester Secures Funding for Sewer District

by Micah Drew, Seeley Swan Pathfinder

SEELEY LAKE – Seven Montana communities, Seeley Lake among them, will receive funding to update water infrastructure. On June 28, Montana Senator Jon Tester announced he had secured more than $2 million for rural water projects, including water supply infrastructure, wastewater treatment facilities, environmental restoration and surface water resource protection.

The Seeley Lake Sewer District is set to receive $600,000 of the funds.

The funds come from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Water Resources Development Act Section 595 Program.

“I know firsthand how important these resources are to rural communities and I will continue to fight to ensure every Montanan has reliable access to clean water,” said Tester in a press release.

According to Greg Robertson, director of Missoula County Public Works, the funds will be used for design and construction.

The Sewer District has also received more than $10 million in a funding package from the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and more than $2 million in other grants.

“If the project were bid at $12 million, we would be fully funded to do it with about $8 million in grants and $4 million in loans,” Robertson said.

The current estimate for the treatment plant and Sub-district/Phase 1 of the collection system is $14 million, a $2.2 million increase from the previous projection.

“Costs don’t remain static during that period of time when you’re going through and doing your iterations and going through your public process,” said Robertson.

Robertson said that on June 29, a request for additional funding was submitted to RD to cover the difference. If secured, the additional funding would be a combination of grants and loans, similar to the existing funding offer.

The Section 595 Program funding offer will expire on March 31, 2018 unless all start up conditions for the project are met.

As of right now, project estimates are only available for the first phase of construction, which includes the treatment facility.