January 17, 2008

Along with its regular weekly Milltown project update (PDF), the EPA has released additional information on its response to well issues the East Missoula area, two miles downstream of the Milltown Dam. Having seen a number of wells go dry, EPA representatives met with Missoula County Commissioners last week and a roomful of concerned residents. The EPA has said it will reimburse residents for costs associated with Milltown-related well problems. Read more after the jump.

From the EPA’s community involvement coordinator Diana Hammer, comes this update:

Last Friday (1/11/08), Tony Berthelote, U of M researcher hired by Missoula County with EPA funds, and Russ Forba, EPA Project Manager for Milltown, gave a presentation to the Missoula County Commissioners and residents of the Marshall Grade/East Missoula area. The meeting was well attended and there was plenty of time for questions/discussion following the presentation. Some residents in the East Missoula area have seen the water level in their wells drop in recent weeks. This can be the result of many things including recent drought, increased development, local geology, and the time of year (very low water levels at this time). Historical data show that groundwater levels vary about 10 feet during the year (higher after spring flows, lowest in winter). However, EPA also believes that it is also responsible due to the reservoir draw down and continued daily pumping to dewater contaminated reservoir sediments. Therefore, EPA has expanded its area well program to include the Marshall Grade/East Missoula area.

As with its on-going well program in Piltzville and West Riverside, if residents have concerns about their well, EPA will pay for service calls and any follow-up work needed to correct problems resulting from the Milltown Reservoir draw down. To date, EPA has provided funds for: checking 222 wells and 68 service calls. Pumps have been lowered in 11 wells and 5 pumps have been replaced; 15 filtration systems have been installed; and 33 new wells drilled. The next reservoir drawdown of 12-14 feet is set for April. Impacts to area wells are expected to be greatest in wells near the Dam, decreasing farther away from the Dam.

EPA and Missoula County has expanded its extensive well monitoring network to include 4 new locations in the East Missoula Area. Tony Berthelote is updating the groundwater model to more accurately predict the conditions expected after the next drawdown. The U of M Groundwater Report is available at http://www.epa.gov/region8/superfund/mt/milltown/techdocs.html

If you have concerns about your well, please call Tony Berthelote at 207– 5856 or Deb Clevenger, EPA, 457-5004.

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