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City finds, fixes multi-million gallon water leak

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | April 27, 2022 1:00 AM

City crews recently found a major leak in the city water system, one they estimate amounted to a loss of about 6 million gallons of water a month.

The leak was in a 16-inch line tap at Fifth Avenue East North, city manager Susan Nicosia told council last week.

Public works director Chris Hanley showed a chunk of the pipe to councilors, with a large hole in it. It was one of two leaks in the pipe they found.

It was fixed on April 6 and since then, well logs are indicating it was leaking about 6 million gallons a month. Fixing the leak should mean about a 25% savings in water loss a month.

The city system still has significant leaks — it loses more than 20 million gallons a month, but since the city has gravel soils, leaks are difficult to find.

A larger project to address more leaks in the Fifth EN system is in line for federal American Rescue Plan Act grants, the state announced last week.

The city ranked 78th in grants application for about $143,000 in funds according Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office. The city will provide a match of $146,500 toward a project that will replace the main on the street and replace lines to homes.

The city has known it has leaks there.

It continues to look for others.

The ARPA funds are not without their politics.

Gianforte earlier this year in an event in Dillon heralded the funds for that city, even though Congressman Matt Rosendale and Sen. Steve Daines, both fellow Republicans, voted again the ARPA law. The bill, however, was supported by Jon Tester, the lone Democrat from Montana. Tester said the second round of funding had been released last week.

“Water infrastructure is absolutely critical if Montana communities are going to have economic certainty and growth, and unfortunately, too many of our areas are dependent on outdated and unreliable systems,” Tester said. “I’m proud to have secured these investments through the American Rescue Plan to upgrade and rebuild water and sewer systems across the state.”

In other city news:

• The city has submitted its Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant. The city is seeking $10 million to rebuild 13th Street West and Fourth Avenue West as both streets are in dire need of repair and serve the schools. The city would spend about $500,000 of its own money on the project if it’s approved.

• The city will look at its fees to use the pool, which haven’t gone up in several years.