Helena exploring groundwater supply

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The Missouri River Water Treatment Plant is pictured in this file photo from 2016. 

Thom Bridge, Independent Record Cameron Kia Weix

Helena contracted to drill wells near one of its water treatment plants to explore the groundwater supply ahead of a water rights deadline.

The city commission approved the contract bid Monday to drill three test wells near the Missouri River Water Treatment Plant, which briefly shut down for repairs early this month. It would be a step toward making use of Helena’s water rights to the aquifer and preventing them from expiring at the end of 2025.

“The importance of this project came to fruition this year because of the drought,” Public Works Director Ryan Leland said to the commission. “This is another option to use fairly inexpensive water to be able to supplement our capacity and our water supply.”

Leland said the city would not have to treat the groundwater besides chlorination and it could serve as a backup for the city’s two treatment plants. He said the

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