The Clancy Water and Sewer District is now pursuing a plan to build a test well on the Marks Ranch with the consent and support of owner, Steve Marks.
After the Clancy School Trustees declined to have the test well built on school property, the Marks Ranch became the next best option for the test well and possible site for the future centralized well system.
Also in the works is a survey to gauge community support for the finalized central well system which will likely increase costs for many property owners living in the District, but is also expected to improve water quality.
The water in Clancy has tested positive for both uranium and nitrates. The uranium was found in 37% of drinking water samples and elevated nitrates were found in 47%, according to the 2018 Treasure State Endowment Program grant application.
The Marks Ranch test well site was approved by a vote at the meeting Aug. 25, but was later rendered null and void because it had not been present on the agenda — a requirement of state statute, according to District President David Leitheiser.
The District plans to address the test well issue at its Sept. 22 meeting.
Marks Ranch was identified as a potential site for a centralized well system in the TSEP grant application. The grant application characterizes Marks Ranch as “the most cost-effective storage site alternative analyzed.” This site also has the benefit of not requiring extensive easement agreements.The school was originally chosen because it was considered the most central location, and the water was already considered to be of good quantity and quality. While the grant doesn’t make any claims about the water quality at the Marks Ranch, the test well can be built to make these determinations. From there, if the site is deemed to be viable, the District would then begin the process of building the centralized system.
Much of the Aug. 25 meeting was spent discussing concerns over the eventual cost of the centralized well system. According to Lori Gilliland, secretary of the Clancy Water and Sewer District, the test well will be fully covered by the grants the District has already received. The District cannot begin work on a centralized system until after the test well is built and then analyzed. Costs to the taxpayers would not be incurred until the production well is constructed.
Should the centralized system be built, the cost to the taxpayer is estimated to be $111 a month, plus the cost of water used, according to Leitheiser.
This cost was the focus of public comment.
Clancy resident Bob Marks said he believed there was little support in the community for this project, in large part due to the cost. He suggested to the District that it might be better to see if the centralized system had community support before going further.
Both Leitheiser and Gilliland supported the use of a survey to gauge support for the centralized well system from property owners. The survey package will include information on the district’s history, water quality issues, available funds, as well as cost, said Leitheiser.
Once the survey, drawn up by Leitheiser, has been reviewed by the Board, county officials and a consultant for comments and corrections it will be mailed to the public. The survey will be nonbinding, but potentially used by the board to make decisions going forward. The results will be handled by Cory Kirsch’s office, as he is the County Commissioner for District 2. According to Gilliland, for the survey to provide the best snapshot of community opinion, members of the Clancy community are urged to participate — the lower the response numbers the less accurate and helpful the survey becomes. The Clancy Water and Sewer District was established in 2015 to address infrastructure issues regarding wastewater. The centralized well project began with the 2017 Montana Tech survey which revealed the uranium and nitrate problems, and plans for the well solidified after the District applied in 2018 for the grants to start the project.