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A look inside the Great Falls water treatment facility

A look inside the Great Falls water treatment facility
Posted at 6:51 PM, Jan 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-24 21:02:32-05

GREAT FALLS — Everyone needs clean water. For Great Falls residents, that starts at one location right next to the Missouri River, where water from the river is processed and distributed throughout the city. According to the city's website, the city has used the Missouri for water since 1889, and now, with an expanding city, the treatment plant looks to expand as well.

"Essentially the city of Great Falls, big picture treats surface water from the Missouri River," senior civil engineer Mark Juras explained. "It provides drinking water, critical infrastructure to homes via the pipe network of the town, but it all starts here at the water treatment plant."

The plant is undergoing several construction projects, one of which was recently approved in last week's city commission meeting for more than $11 million. It is part of the plant's solids mitigation project, which aims to help remove sludge and waste more efficiently. Sludge must be transported completely dry to the landfill, as any water that gets out would be a potential risk. The construction project will help eliminate all of the water weight to help save time and money, as they currently have to handle it twice a day.


"Our coagulation process removes naturally occurring arsenic out of the Missouri River and then attaches that arsenic to that sludge," water utility branch manager Jason Fladland said. "The issue we have is we're handling that material twice right now, so it's costing the city extra dollars to move that material. This process will get to start to move in that material once. For us, it's very significant."

They say the water in the Missouri River has a pH of about 8.1 and goes through several different processes when it gets to the plant, which the city website includes coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration and disinfection before it is pumped into over 310 miles of water distribution lines.

"Additionally, we can't discharge our residual solids in the winter months because it will freeze," Juras added. "So this will allow us to do year round, solid solids mitigation and take it to the landfill year round without having to worry about freezing conditions."

They are also working on a project that will help update the filter systems, which is expected to be completed sometime next year.

"We have an aging infrastructure that we need to continually improve upon. One, to correct deficiencies that we have in our infrastructure, but also to accommodate that growth."

They say the projects are crucial moving forward as they handle anywhere from 8 to 32 million gallons of water a day, and have a capacity of around 48 million gallons.