HELENA – The Town of Choteau has installed an emergency overflow culvert to emergency discharge partially treated wastewater into a ditch that flows to the Teton River. This emergency mechanism was imperative to protect human health and property from sewage back-ups in homes and to keep the wastewater treatment facility operational.
The wastewater treatment operator for City of Choteau notified the Department of Environmental Quality in March that record snow pack and warming temperatures have resulted in increased meltwater runoff and increased ground water level. Both have contributed to massive flows through the sewer collection system to the Choteau Wastewater Treatment plant.
These flows (between 1.6 and 1.8 million gallons per day) are well above the maximum capacity of the treatment facility. To deal with the increased flow, the treatment facility requested to use the old lagoon as an overflow pond. Given the circumstances and the immediate need, DEQ agreed that they could pump excess directly to the old lagoon on March 22.
Since then, the old lagoon has been rapidly filling, and the old lagoon has also reached capacity and is discharging to the ditch.
DEQ is requiring the Town of Choteau to sample the partially treated wastewater in accordance with the monitoring requirements in their permit.
DEQ continues to communicate and work with the Town of Choteau’s wastewater operator in monitoring the situation and assessing options to protect human health and the environment.