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Ronan water project nearly done

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RONAN — In 2008, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality put forth a report stating Ronan did not have enough water storage, fire flow, water supply or water treatment to meet regulations. Driven by governing bodies on the state and federal level, the Ronan City Council voted 5-1 in 2008 in favor of a water improvement project for the town.

The city was eventually able to secure $4.85 million in funding through the City of Ronan, loans, the Treasure State Endowment Program, Rural Development and the Department of Natural Resources. 

Four years and nearly $5 million later, the project is nearing completion and should be fully operational by the end of the year. 

“It was good to put local people to work on the project and pump some money into local businesses,” said Roland Godan, labor compliance manager and grant administrator for the water project. “I always enjoy seeing Montana plates on Montana projects.”

The project constructed a new well north of the fairgrounds, installed a new water storage tank west of the hospital and added a new booster station on Terrace Lake Road. The new tank and well were necessary to increase water flow and water supply in the event of a fire in one of Ronan’s larger buildings, such as the high school or hospital. 

The new pumps can carry nearly 2,000 gallons of water per minute, and the new booster station on Terrace Lake Road should provide residents on the east end of the road with much higher water pressure. 

Phase 2 of the project involved constructing a new water treatment station on Michael Road. The old plant, an ozone filtration system, was more than 25 years old and used outdated, dangerous technology. 

The new plant uses an ultraviolet light system to disinfect city water. The UV rays bombard the water pumped through the plant. When these UV rays contact microorganisms, they scramble the cell’s DNA. This kills and deactivates the organism, making the water safe to drink while utilizing only a small amount of chlorine. Officials hope this will preserve the water’s taste.

Godan said the treatment plant is very close to completion and should be in the testing phase by early December and operational by the first of the year. 

“It’s been quite a few years to get to this point,” Godan said. “So it’s nice to see it come to a conclusion. Projects like this are a lot of fun, especially when they’re right here in your home town.”

Godan said the project went smoothly, especially considering the size and scope of the undertaking. 

“Every project I’ve ever worked on, something always goes wrong,” he said. “You can’t anticipate everything. It’s about being able to react. When situations came up, they were acted on, resolved, and we didn’t break stride.”

Even more amazing, the project hasn’t seen a single injury. Godan compared the size and scope of Ronan’s water improvement project to to building a subdivision containing 40 homes. 

“I don’t think you can build 40 homes and not have someone at least smash a thumb,” he said. “No injuries. No one got hurt or run over, no telephone poles were damaged and no cars were damaged. That’s pretty remarkable.”

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