BOZEMAN — The U.S. government has agreed to pay $1 million to a Montana water district to settle a lawsuit over the amount of arsenic coming into its system from Yellowstone National Park.
The settlement brings an end to the lawsuit filed by Gardiner-Park County Water and Sewer District in 2018 claiming high levels of arsenic was found in the district’s sewage ponds, making cleanup more expensive, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.
Judge Susan P. Waters signed an order dismissing the case because of the settlement between the park and water district in mid-March. A payment to the water district has already been made, the Chronicle reported.
Todd Shea, the attorney who represented the district, declined to comment.
“The park is pleased to have resolved this matter with the neighboring community of Gardiner,” Yellowstone National Park spokeswoman Linda Veress said in an email.
The money will pay for rehabilitating the district’s septic system “after years of naturally occurring arsenic flowed out of Yellowstone National Park and caused deposits in Gardiner’s sewer lines and holding pond,” Veress said.
The lawsuit alleged the increased arsenic was from faulty manholes or pipes delivering wastewater from the park’s headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs in Wyoming.
The sludge ponds have to be emptied periodically and the arsenic affected the cost of doing so, district officials said, adding that the cost was estimated at more than $2 million in 2015.
The district sent multiple letters to the park in 2015 and 2016 seeking some solution but had not received a response until 2016 when the park acknowledged the problems with its pipes, but said it likely wouldn’t have money available to pay for the repairs until this year.
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