Missoula County allocates $ 1 million in ARPA funds to upgrade Lolo plant

LOLO – Almost a million dollars in funding for the American rescue plan will be used to make long-needed improvements to Lolo’s wastewater treatment system – and eliminate the use of leaky ‘bio-bags’.

Missoula County Commissioners approved the work order last week and expect the improvements to begin next winter. Lolo is increasing in both population and size, and the system is unable to meet today’s standards or requirements. The risk of system failure is also a concern.

“It’s great that we can use the money from ARPA to meet these sewer and water infrastructure needs for these areas that are kind of deficient,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick. “This is a big step forward for the Lolo sewerage system. “

Over a decade ago, an engineering report was written that recommended a number of improvements to the Lolo WWTP to improve both capacity and processing.

The upgrades were never funded, but with ARPA funding now available, the work can finally begin.

“Some work has been done, but due to budget deficits over the years, not all of this work has been completed,” said Erik Dickson of County Engineering. “When the ARPA grant became available, we applied for this grant and received funding. We continue to see areas that need improvement.

Craig Caprara, head of the water section for HDR, said upgrades were planned as early as 2008. Recommended upgrades cover major equipment, from pumping effluent to upgrading the treatment tank.

But Caprara said most of the work includes the design of the dewatering plant. The plant is currently using a dredge provided by the National Park Service to dredge a storage pond, place the material in biological bags, dry it out, and send it to landfill.

“It’s an extremely laborious and inefficient process for plant staff,” said Caprara. “The bio-bags are in a polishing pond which is suspected of leaking. It’s just not a very good process.

Caprara said the work will also include a second discharge line and an improved lifting system.

“All of Lolo’s wastewater gravitates to a main lift station located a few thousand feet from the plant, and it pumps the treatment to the plant,” he said. “This lifting station is quite old and needs to be replaced. There is a discharge line that carries the wastewater to the treatment plant. If that pipe breaks, you have a lot of trouble.

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