FEMA, Tester get a look at Billings water system

Billings was in trouble. Amid a nearly once in a century flood, the Yellowstone River had reached to top of the 15-foot gate to the city’s Water Treatment Plant and was fouling the intake pond used to filter the river’s heaviest impurities.

The 10 pounds of chemicals crews usually add to the pond to bond with the river’s impurities weren’t cutting it. They added more, and then more and then still more until the dose was up to a thousand pounds. Simply put, the cold brown soup, which had swept away homes and bridges, overwhelmed wells and septic fields up stream, had become too much to treat as flood waters rose to 17 feet last Tuesday night.

An employee at the Billings Water Treatment Plant moves sandbags on Friday, June 17 amid historic flooding on the Yellowstone River

AMY LYNN NELSON BILLINGS GAZETTE

It was time to shut the system down and advise Billings water users to go easy on what treated water was available.

“We took it offline at 11 p.m.,” said Debi Meling, Billings Public Works director. “We were back

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