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Ronan seeks to reclassify Spring Creek

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RONAN — Several important items were up for discussion during last week’s city council meeting in Ronan. 

City Attorney James Raymond asked the council to approve a new FEMA digital floodplain map resolution. The resolution would essentially convert Ronan’s floodplain map to a digital format.

“This resolution basically needs to be passed so people within Ronan city limits can buy flood insurance,” said Mayor Kim Aipperspach. 

City of Ronan public works director Dan Miller said the only two buildings within the floodplain are the bank and a shed owned by the city. 

Just the same, the council was reluctant to vote on the resolution until community members were given the opportunity to read the document. A copy of the 75-page document is available in Ronan City Hall for residents to read before the council votes on the resolution at its next meeting.

In addition, Miller said Ronan is currently under a resolution to fix an ammonia issue with Spring Creek. 

The resolution stems from a Professional Engineering Review conducted in 2008. According to Miller, a PER identifies potential problems with the infrastructure and environmental issues within a city or town. Having an up-to-date PER is essential to attain funding for projects like Ronan’s recently completed water project. 

“You won’t even be considered for grant money, let alone low interest loans, without it,” Miller said. 

The last study involving Spring Creek was conducted in 2008. Testing revealed the stream’s ammonia levels were too high, and Ronan has been under a resolution to fix the problem ever since. 

“If we were to fix it mechanically, it would cost the city around $5 million and a new, full-time employee,” Miller said. “It’s not that the ammonia is that high; it’s just such a small stream and it’s not classified.”

Spring Creek has never been independently classified. However, the stream flows into the Flathead River and thus shares the same classification and environmental requirements. 

Miller asked the council for permission to extend the amount of time to complete the wastewater PER amendment so a uses and attainability study could be conducted on the stream. This study would change Spring Creek’s classification and requirements to something more realistic, designating it as its own waterway separate from the Flathead River. 

“This would make the ammonia issue go away, and that would be a big savings,” Miller said. 

The council granted the extension, and Miller is currently looking for a way to conduct a uses and attainability study on Spring Creek. This type of study has never been done in Montana, so it could take some time.

The council also passed Miller’s request to allow a budget amendment so the public works department could purchase a sewer camera and trailer. 

A sewer camera and trailer would help the city to identify problem areas and map Ronan’s sewer network.  

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