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City receives $450,000 grant for Flower Creek Dam

by Alan Lewis Gerstenecker
| July 31, 2013 12:57 PM

Libby has received a $450,000 grant from the state to assist with the building of a new dam to replace the aging Flower Creek Dam.

Gov. Steve Bullock on Wednesday announced the $450,000 Community Development Block Grant, which amounts to 5.3 percent of  the cost of the $8.4 million project.

 “The grant will go directly to creating good-paying construction jobs for repairing the dam in Libby,” said Bullock. “To have a healthy community, we need to ensure that folks have access to clean, healthy water.”

 The grant is issued through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is meant to promote and develop local communities and their ability to provide essential services, such as wastewater systems.

 “This money will go a long ways,” said Libby Mayor Doug Roll. “The dam on the reservoir here is the only source of drinking water for the citizens of Libby, and it is critical that we replace it before any sort of structural damages arise. We really appreciate the help that the grant will provide us.”

Work on the dam has been delayed this year because of permitting snafu. The new dam, which is being constructed on virtually the same site as the existing structure, now requires a new biological assessment to assess how the new dam will affect endangered species, namely bull trout and grizzly bears. The 67-year-old dam, which was built in 1946, is deteriorating to the point city officials have been outspoken about it current state. The Department of Natural Resources, which is the agency that inspects municipal dams, has said because of its poor condition, will not further endorse the dam beyond the expiration of its current permit of about 30 months.

The dam project is just one of the two water-improvement efforts being undertaken by the city. A $4-plus million water-distribution project currently is being done. This project, which likely will go into 2014, is to repair water-main leaks and to provide a more even water-pressure standard throughout the city.

 More information on the dam grant can be accessed through the Community Development Division at the Montana Department of Commerce at 406 841-2770 or by emailing DOCCDBG@mt.gov.