Wastewater to irrigate club golf course

By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor

BIG SKY – Construction of a treated effluent pond at Spanish Peaks Mountain Club began May 8 and is expected to be completed within five months. The new pond, which will hold approximately 14 million gallons of Big Sky County Water and Sewer District treated wastewater, will be located in the southwest area of The Ranches neighborhood, below Wilderness Ridge Trail.

A pipeline will be installed from the pond to an area below the 15th hole of the club’s golf course to facilitate seasonal irrigation of the course slated to begin in summer 2018.

Under an existing 2001 agreement between BSWSD and Spanish Peaks, wastewater from the club is currently transported to the district for treatment, storage and disposal. The 2001 agreement also stipulated that construction of a treated effluent pond would commence within one year of receiving notification from Big Sky County Water and Sewer District, and completed within two years of notification. Notification was received by Spanish Peaks on June 5, 2016.

Depending on the amount of seasonal rainfall, Spanish Peaks applies approximately 25 million gallons to the course during a typical year. Ideally, at the end of the irrigation season and heading into winter, the pond will be nearly empty, with only a small operational volume to protect the pond from freezing. Filling will occur over the winter and spring season so the pond is near capacity when it’s time to commence seasonal irrigation.

“Irrigating the golf course with non-potable water is a widely accepted, environmentally friendly method of disposal,” wrote Jon Olsen, director of development and engineering at Lone Mountain Land Company, in an email to EBS. “By using non-potable water for golf course irrigation, we are greatly reducing the volume of water pumped from Big Sky area aquifers.”

Although most of the construction traffic for the pond will utilize Ousel Falls Road, there may be minimal project-related traffic on Elk Meadow Trail and South Fork Road.