Absarokee water project nearing completion

Mikaela Koski
Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Absarokee water project is nearing the home stretch.

Residents will not be inconvenienced by torn up streets for much longer, as the end of October is the anticipated end of the project, according to project superintendent John Berens. Despite a couple setbacks, the project is very close to being on schedule, as the middle of October was the initial goal for finishing the project.

There is about 4,500 feet of water main still to replace, Berens said. By the end of the project, approximately 11,000 feet of water main throughout the town of Absarokee will have been replaced.

Berens also noted the project is keeping close to the target budget of $4.5 million.

He extended a thank you to the people of Absarokee for their patience throughout the project, which is nearing the end of its fourth month. The crews are doing their best to complete the project as soon as possible, Berens added.


The Absarokee Water and Sewer District’s (AWSD) Distribution System Improvement Project (DSIP) has been years in the making.

In January 2016, the district held a public meeting at which Great West Engineering’s Collette Anderson presented on the condition of the Absarokee water system and gave possible solutions.

Anderson found that the annual average water loss from the distribution system has been 70 percent since 2013. According to the presentation, this leads to “increased chemical costs, energy use, (and) maintenance.”

In addition to the water loss, about 30 percent of the pipelines in the distribution system did not meet the minimum standard for fire protection, according to information provided by the district to the Treasure State Endowment Program (TSEP) for grant purposes.

The DSIP replaces thousands of feet of old, corroding steel and galvanized main pipelines with new PVC water main pipelines that are up to the necessary standards. The project also adds a PVC loop around the school in Absarokee.

The district was awarded a $500,000 TSEP grant for the water project, as well as $500,000 of Department of Natural Resources and Conservation loan forgiveness. According to the AWSD website, “this resulted in a savings of approximately $2,100 per water user.”

The remaining $3.5 million needed for the project will be repaid over the next 20 years by the AWSD, resulting in a rate increase for Absarokee water users. As of July 1, the majority of AWSD users now pay $54.10 per month for 4,000 gallons of water. This is a $31 increase from the previous $23.10 monthly service fee. However, the $12 capital fee that users had to pay each month has now been eliminated.

A group of local citizens formed a nonprofit organization to help low income members of the community afford the increase, according to the AWSD website. The guidelines, once established, will be posted on the website.