By Michael Howell
Local realtor Lee Foss has applied for a wastewater discharge permit for a large retail facility in the valley that has sparked rumors of Walmart locating a new store here. The permit application shows a diagram of a 156,159 square foot facility designated as a “Retail Store”. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is accepting public comment on the application through June 10, 2014.
The proposed facility will be located at the northeast corner of the intersection of US Highway 93 and Blood Lane in Hamilton. The raw wastes entering the facility are expected to be residential strength in nature. The facility proposes to discharge treated wastewater into Class I groundwater via a subsurface drainfield.
According to the DEQ fact sheet, the ground water flow direction on the east side of the Bitterroot Valley in the vicinity of the facility is generally northwest toward the Bitterroot River beneath the low terrace along Skalkaho Creek.
The recent re-permitting of another wastewater discharge permit for the Grantsdale Addition subdivision in the area southeast of Hamilton has been challenged in court. In that case a few citizen’s organizations have challenged DEQ’s permitting process alleging a violation of the Clean Water Act by restricting the analysis to a “calculation” of the effects on groundwater at the discharge point but ignoring the potential effects on surface waters such as the Bitterroot River.
A draft EA for Foss’s permit application along with other public comment documents is posted on the Department web page: http://deq.mt.gov/notices/WQnotices.mcpx. For copies of the draft EA and other public comment material or to submit comments, you may write or call the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Water Protection Bureau, Metcalf Building, 1520 E. 6th Avenue, Helena MT 59620-0901; telephone (406) 444-3080. If you wish to comment electronically, you may e-mail the Department at WPBPublicNotices@mt.gov.