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05 07 2019 13:04 Age: 14 days
Category: Engineering All

Public Comment: Helena Westside Wastewater Improvements Finding of No Significant Impact Environmental Review




As required by state and federal rules for determining whether an Environmental Impact Statement is necessary, an environmental review has been performed on the proposed action below:

Project:                               Helena Westside Wastewater Improvements, Phases 1B and 2

Location:                             Helena, Montana

Project Number:                  WPCSRF Project# C303218

Total Cost:                          $2,535,000

The City of Helena’s 2008 Wastewater Collection System Master Plan identified the extension of municipal wastewater service to the recently annexed area located on Helena’s westside as one of its goals. The City has been actively pursuing and planning this infrastructure project in direct response to increasing  occurrences of existing on-site wastewater system failures.  Water and sewer systems in the Westside area are primarily on-site septic systems and wells, although some homes already receive water or sewer service from the City of Helena. Many of the on-site systems were installed between 1960 and 1980 and do not meet current standards.  Some of these systems are cesspools and seepage pits. When an on-site system fails, it is difficult and often impossible to find a large enough replacement area that meets current standards for depth to bedrock and required setback distance to wells. In recent on-site system failures, the only option has been to request an extension of municipal services from the City of Helena. A collaborative sewer collection project is more economical and optimal for the City and its residents than piecemeal sewer installations made on an as-needed basis. The inability to construct new on-site wastewater systems within the Westside area that can meet current regulations essentially poses a moratorium on new construction in the area. There is overriding concern about impairment to groundwater quality from substandard on-site systems, and that inadequate separation distances between these systems and domestic wells pose a potential public health risk.

The proposed project consists of the extension of the City of Helena’s municipal wastewater service into its Westside area through the installation of approximately 2.2 miles of conventional gravity sewer mains. Municipal sewer mains will be extended to approximately 200 homes and businesses in the two recently annexed sections of Helena’s Westside area, designated as Phase 1B and Phase 2. The City’s extension of sewer mains into this area will allow homes and businesses to connect when their on-site system fails or is in danger of failing. To save construction costs and neighborhood disruption, the City also plans to make municipal water available to Westside area residents at the same time as wastewater service.

Federal and State grant/loan programs will fund the project. Environmentally sensitive characteristics such as floodplains, wetlands, threatened or endangered species, and historical sites are not expected to be adversely impacted because of the proposed project. No significant long-term environmental impacts were identified.

An environmental assessment, which describes the project and analyzes the impacts in more detail, is available for public scrutiny at the DEQ website (http://deq.mt.gov/public/ea) and at the following locations:

Michele Marsh, PE
Department of Environmental Quality
1520 East Sixth Avenue
P.O. Box 200901
Helena, MT  59620-0901

City of Helena
City-County Building
316 North Park Avenue
Helena, MT  59623 

Comments on the EA may be submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality at the above address.  After evaluating substantive comments received, the department will revise the environmental assessment or determine if an environmental impact statement is necessary.  If no substantive comments are received during the comment period, or if substantive comments are received and evaluated and the environmental impacts are still determined to be non-significant, the agency will make a final decision.  

No administrative action will be taken on the project for at least 30 calendar days after the date of this notice of the Finding of No Significant Impact.