By Amanda Eggert EBS Senior Editor

BIG SKY – The effluent pond that’s been constructed in Spanish Peaks Mountain Club should be ready to accept treated wastewater from the Big Sky Water and Sewer District plant by the end of October, according to BSWSD General Manager Ron Edwards.

Edwards said Spanish Peaks developers have agreed to use 100 percent treated effluent on the Club at Spanish Peaks golf course. “Originally, they were going to do tees and greens with freshwater and now they’re saying they’re going to try 100 percent of it in reclaimed water, which from our perspective is a good thing.”

Edwards estimates that will amount to 30-35 million gallons of treated effluent used for golf course irrigation in an average year. The capacity of the pond is 15 million gallons, and it could be filled multiple times throughout the year.

The district will run up against its storage capacity around mid-May of next year if his projections hold up, Edwards said. Irrigation on area golf courses with treated effluent generally begins toward the end of April, but that’s weather dependent. “Sometimes we have to wait until the first of May,” Edwards said. “It all depends on how the weather shapes up in the spring.”

At their Oct. 17 meeting, the BSWSD board decided to move forward with awarding a contract to an engineering firm to design a plant upgrade, which would involve a greatly improved treatment system as well as a pipeline to the Gallatin River.

“We’ve always told people that designing [a pipe to the Gallatin] is one of the things we’re going to do,” Edwards said. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to turn around and build it. This engineering stuff takes time. You’re better [off] to design it and have that in place.”

At their meeting, the board decided to enter into contract negotiations with AE2S, a civil and environmental consulting engineering firm that works across the upper Midwest.

Part of AE2S’s proposal includes treatment technology that would improve the plant’s ability to treat wastewater during the winter using a membrane bioreactor system, which was developed by the Dutch government and is used in approximately 30 plants worldwide according to Scott Buecker, a project manager with AE2S.

The next BSWSD board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 21 at 8 a.m. in the BSWSD board meeting room.