Bozeman outlines proposals for stormwater system


BOZEMAN, Mont. - Bozeman leaders will take a close look at problems with the city's stormwater collection system Monday night, as well as how much it could end up costing taxpayers to fix it.

The city of Bozeman has spent thousands of hours mapping and assessing 22 miles of water pipes and streams that run underneath the city.

Bozeman Public Works Director Craig Woolard says failure to address these issues could lead to a number of problems.

Woolard told us they examined the system, "To really understand the condition of the stormwater utility -- where it's working, where it's not."

Woolard laid out for us the three components of the city's assessment of the stormwater utility.

First is properly operating and maintaining the system. That includes up to six new personnel and almost $400,000 annually for equipment and maintenance on the recommended level needed for the stormwater system moving forward.

Woolard said, "Its failure to perform really results in problems of flooding, and ponding, and those sorts of things we need to address."

The second component is addressing the deferred maintenance of the system. That's work that hasn't been done but needs to be. It involves replacing broken storm pipes and restoring ponds used to soak up water runoff. That would cost almost $700,000.

Woolard explained, "Failed or failing pipes, and the clogged piping network really inhibit the performance of the stormwater systems."

The last component is looking into how they can improve the stormwater treatment system. That includes cleaning pollutants like oil, fertilizer and animal waste running into the water from driveways and yards -- pollutants that should be removed before going into the ground. That could total $290,000.

"There are some mechanical systems that separate out sediment." Woolard told us, "There's some low-impact kind of green infrastructure that we could use."

Woolard says he's hopeful about fixing the issues to provide Bozeman with efficient stormwater management, and city leaders have been helpful in the process. He said, "We're talking about what we want these storm water utilities to be, and then what are some options for paying for it."

There are three different options being presented to the city at a commission meeting Monday night.

The first, called the "gold" level, requires the maximum amount of annual funding with the shortest amount of time: $2.7 million for 5 years.

The next, "silver," is the one recommended by the city. It would require 10 years of funding at $1.7 million per year.

The last, "bronze," is the cheapest annually at $1.2 million but requires a 15-year commitment.

Monday night's meeting starts at 6 p.m. and is only a discussion. Commissioners are not expected to take any action.