The Bigfork Water and Sewer District is asking residents to consider a $5.3 million general obligation bond to construct a new water storage tank to meet increasing demands and help the town better prepare for fires.
Jeff Cicon, project manager for Morrison-Maierle, said Bigfork’s current 350,000-gallon water tank located not far from Montana Highway 35 north of the village, is not sufficient to meet the town’s future needs and would be quickly depleted in the event of a fire.
“This is something that the water and sewer district has wanted to do for a while,” he said.
The new tank will be able to hold an additional 750,000 gallons of water, ensuring the community has plenty of additional water in the summer.
Currently, Bigfork gets most of its water from four large wells north of town; much of that water goes directly to homes and businesses via a transmission main, while some is directed to the 350,000-gallon storage tank. For most of the year, that tank is full, but in the summer — when Bigfork’s population booms with summer visitors and lawns need to be watered — that storage can be quickly depleted. Bigfork’s water and sewer district has not had to implement water restrictions in the past, but without a new storage tank it would have to in the future, Cicon said.
The bond would also help pay for the construction of a new water main. The current water main connecting the wells north of town to the village goes right along Highway 35 through what is called Ice Box Canyon. That section of highway is slated for improvement in the coming years, and officials say keeping the water main online during construction will be challenging. The new main would go to the west, around Ice Box Canyon, and not be impacted by roadwork.
Lastly, the bond will also help pay for the water district to repaint another old water tank with peeling lead paint near the high school football field. Officials said the peeling tank does not pose a health risk at this time — the water district routinely tests for lead in the drinking water — but the tank’s metal is now exposed, making it susceptible to the elements.
The water district is requesting a $5.3 million bond. For a property valued at $200,000, the cost will be $7.32 per month. If the project were funded through water rates, it could cost $16 a month per household. Ballots are currently being mailed out to water district residents and are due back Feb. 26. For more information, visit bigforkwater.com.
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