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Bottled water donations pouring into Hysham after water-boil advisory issued

Hysham, Montana water treatment facility "No Trespassing" sign
Posted at 6:23 PM, Jan 11, 2023

HYSHAM — The town of Hysham is now two weeks into a water boil advisory following problems with its water treatment plant in December, and donations of bottled water are flowing in from neighboring communities.

The Pepsi Cola Distribution Center in Hardin and the Miles City Walmart are both making deliveries to Hysham, where the town's water treatment plant is having problems making the water drinkable.

"I reached out so that we could have bottled water in the school. They were wonderful to work with and donated water from Miles City in Walmart and Pepsi is doing weekly deliveries to the school, which is really great," said Nicole Stephenson, Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) coordinator for Treasure County. "We’re very thankful and grateful that they’re supporting our little community here."

The town's water source is the Yellowstone River, so the water must be filtered and disinfected before being consumed as there are potentially harmful pathogens in the water.

Stephenson told MTN News on Wednesday that town officials are hard at work dealing with these water issues.

“The town council has been working very hard with (the Montana Department of Environmental Quality) and has been since last spring. So it isn’t something they have not been aware of. They’re not trying to hide anything. They’ve been working very hard with DEQ, and they’ve been really great to work with,” Stephenson said. “It isn’t something that anybody is trying to say that things are bad and the water treatment plant is going to be shut down. It’s a 'Let’s work together in a partnership and get it fixed to move forward,' and that’s what we’re trying to do."

A public meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Hysham Public School activity room to discuss the matter.

“Residents are encouraged to attend the public meeting that the town council is holding to discuss the water treatment facility and respond to any questions that they may have," Stephenson said.

Stephenson is now researching grants to attempt to help pay for repair costs.

Hysham Mayor Larry Fink told MTN News that the town spent almost $40,000 in 2022 for upgrades to the water treatment plant. He also said the town has spent almost $2,000 testing the water in compliance with the DEQ. Fink added the town is offering free bottled water to residents, available at the town's office.

Fink also said the town is working closely with the DEQ to handle the problems, but these things take time. He declined to an interview on camera.

Lisa Kaufman from the DEQ told MTN on Friday that there is a 90-day plan in place for Hysham, and if things go well, the water boil advisory will be lifted. But that is still months away, and residents are still advised to boil tapwater or use bottled water in the meantime.