By Karl Puckett, Great Falls Tribune
The state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) downgraded a “do not use” order in place for Brady water to a health advisory on Thursday as the town’s malfunctioning treatment plant began producing usable water again.
The treatment plant hasn’t produced usable water in more than two weeks for Brady’s 200 residents.
“I’m really ecstatic we’ve finally gotten Brady back on a water supply and things are moving along,” said Shelly Nolan of the DEQ’s Public Water Supply Bureau.
The health advisory means that residents with compromised immune systems, those with infants and some elderly may be at increased risk if they drink the water.
Those residents are being told to seek advice from health care providers before drinking the water.
The advisory was issued because the water still has high levels of turbidity and chlorine residual, Nolan said.
Turbidity is cloudiness in the water that could be caused by organic matter, bacteria, soil or minerals, she added.
“They will have to remain on a health advisory until they get turbidity levels down to the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act,” Nolan said.
The plant was shut down on Aug. 12 after sludge turned up in the water.
The sludge came from the bottom of a water holding pond, apparently from a malfunctioning intake system that delivers water from the holding pond to the treatment plant.
Divers from Billings were called in last week to locate the intake pipe at the bottom of the pond and initially state and local water officials reported finding it.
The object turned out to be a concrete reinforcement for the dike, said Laurie Campbell, president of the Brady Water and Sewer District.
On Saturday, a new intake line was installed by Prewett Construction with oversight and assistance from plant operator Russ Leitheiser; John Wiekel and John Camden of Montana Rural Water Systems; and Mike O’Brien of TD&H Engineering.
Although the intake issue has been resolved, water operators still need to make adjustments in the treatment plant to produce water that meets the Safe Drinking Water Act requirements, Nolan said.
She hopes the town won’t have to rely on the treatment plant for much longer.
Brady is in the progress of hooking onto a regional water supply line that is under construction in northcentral Montana.
As of Aug. 26, the Porta-Potties supplied to Brady, by UFI Sanitation Service, are being removed.
To date, the water distribution totals 614 gallon jugs and 256 cases of 16-ounce bottles. The Pondera County Search and Rescue, Brady volunteers and the PCSO have manned the distribution center that was located in the Brady Fire Hall.
Brady’s water system was scheduled to be connected by pipeline with the Conrad water system by December.
Once the pipeline is completed, the treatment plant in Brady is scheduled to be abandoned.
Use of the facility and the pond will no longer be needed since the water from the Conrad system is treated.
Conrad presently receives its water from a pipeline in the deep pool in Lake Frances, and Conrad is a stockholder in the Pondera County Canal and Reservoir Company.