Water and sewer district has biggest permitting year to date


As of Aug. 16, the Big Sky Water and Sewer District board has approved 399 single-family equivalent permits in 2016—the most approved in the district’s 23-year history.

A single-family equivalent, or SFE, refers to the amount of water used by a family in a given day. It helps the board use an apples-to-apples comparison as it allocates water and sewer capacity.

“We have now exceeded the single biggest year of permitting in our history,” said BSWSD General Manager Ron Edwards at the board’s Aug. 16 board meeting.

The second-biggest year was 1998, when permits were granted for Big Sky Resort’s Summit Hotel. Earlier this year, the board granted 207 SFEs for a 500,000-square-foot lodge to be built in Spanish Peaks Mountain Club.

SFEs are allocated during a calendar year, and there are 43 permits remaining for the four months left in 2016, based on the district’s current capacity.

Several other topics of discussion at the meeting—including the board’s adoption of a rate change for water and sewer fees—are in a holding pattern until legal opinions are available.

Potential amendments to the 2001 agreement granting the Yellowstone Club potable water for wastewater storage and disposal are also on hold. The district is waiting for a document from Spanish Peaks clarifying its role in the agreement, as well as the outcome of the Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum’s efforts.

“The water solutions group in the community is going to come up with a [draft] in the next 16 months, which is going to guide the amendment to the [Yellowstone Club] agreement,” said BSWSD board member and Yellowstone Club Vice President of Development Mike DuCuennois.

HATCH Ostinato Project launches new website


The HATCH Ostinato project, a collaboration between 29 Big Sky music students and internationally renowned composers, rolled out a new website earlier this month showcasing the project and connecting interested students, educators and musicians with resources to develop similar projects.

“The project has grown very quickly from a small local project to one that has national, and in fact international, recognition,” said HATCH founder Yarrow Kraner. “We needed a clean and crisp way to tell the story.”

Last fall, musicians and composers Philip Sheppard and Russell Spurlock took melodies that the music students created with the aid of Big Sky music educator John Zirkle and developed them into polished, layered tracks. Sheppard, Spurlock, Zirkle and Kraner developed the seed idea for the project at last September’s HATCH conference, a gathering of 100 creative types from around the world.

Three tracks generated by HATCH Ostinato have been licensed, and all 10 are available on hatchostinatoproject.com.

“Everyone’s really impressed with the quality of the music and the fact that it’s actually working as a monetized model,” Kraner said. “It’s gone past intention into execution and that’s because of the quality of the music.”

Kraner said HATCH is recruiting educators, composers and music supervisors around the world and this new website—featuring a “music makes an impact” tagline—will help with that mission.

A big push to draw more eyes to the website will occur in the coming weeks as the next HATCH conference in Big Sky approaches. The conference is slated for Sept. 14-18.

Visit hatchexperience.org for more information.

Skyline receives federal, Gallatin County funding for two new buses


The Big Sky Transportation District, which runs the Skyline bus service locally in Big Sky and the Link Express between Bozeman and Big Sky, received $50,000 from Gallatin County on Aug. 10 to match federal funding administered by the Montana Department of Transportation.

The funds will help cover the cost two new buses, a 35-passenger bus like those already in service, and a 45-passenger bus that Big Sky Transportation District coordinator David Kack describes as similar to a high school bus, but with motor coach-style seating.

Kack said it will likely be a year before the buses are in service since they’re not waiting on a lot, ready to go. “The state [places] bids and procures them on behalf of the district, so their processes can take a little longer,” Kack said, adding that there’s certainly need for them.

“This year, our ridership between Bozeman and Big Sky was up about 20 percent,” Kack said. A survey found approximately 60 percent of riders use the service for work purposes.

This is the first time in seven years of requests that the Gallatin County commissioners have agreed to fund the district, Kack said. “I’m hoping [this time] it was a combination of persistence … and showing [commissioners] that 76 percent of the people who are riding are Gallatin County residents.”

Kack added that even though the resorts that rely on Skyline to shuttle employees to and from work are in Madison County, Gallatin County benefits from county taxes collected in the Big Sky area. “They need to do some work to support that,” he said.

Other funding allocated to the district this year includes $80,000 from Madison County and $525,000 from the Big Sky Resort Area District.

Big Sky watershed group hosts stakeholder meetings


The Big Sky Water Solutions Forum has three upcoming stakeholder meetings scheduled, including one on Aug. 31, before a public town hall meeting planned for Dec. 9.

The voluntary collaborative effort formed to address water resources in the Big Sky area. With more than 30 stakeholders, representing diverse interests from developers to clean water advocates, the group has identified three areas of focus: sustaining the ecological health of the river system; clean water supply and availability; and wastewater treatment and disposal.

Spearheaded by the Gallatin River Task Force, the collaboration was initially funded by nearly $16,000 from Lone Mountain Land Company and the Yellowstone Club. Big Sky Water and Sewer District, Big Sky Resort Area District, and both Gallatin and Madison counties have since provided additional funding.

All stakeholder meetings are open to the public—with a public comment period at the beginning and end—and held 1-4 p.m. in the Big Sky Water and Sewer District conference room. The Dec. 6 town hall meeting will be held at Buck’s T-4 in the evening, with a time to be determined.

The Big Sky Water Solutions Forum stakeholder meeting schedule including itineraries:

Aug. 31 – Ecological health of the river system
Sept. 28 – Water supply and availability
Nov. 3 – Wastewater treatment and disposal