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New well brings fresh water to Park City Schools

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Posted at 9:44 PM, Feb 21, 2024

For nearly two years, Park City Schools had to bring water in five-gallon containers but now things are back to normal.

Students, teachers and staff can fill their water bottles, and also get water out of the drinking fountain once again.

Clean fresh drinking water returned in March of 2023.

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation sent out a news release on Wednesday on the restoration of the drinking water.

"We had five-gallon water stations all over the school,” said Dan Grabowska, Park City superintendent. “We had bottled water. So just dealing with the individual bottled water was a big challenge."

That also took its toll in the lunchroom where it took staff almost double the time to prepare meals.

"Recipes like mashed potatoes, soup, anything that needed water, we had to go around down the hallway and grab a cart," said Chantal Dobitz, Park City Schools head cook.

The problems date back to 2020 when a nearby housing project leaked raw sewage into the water table, contaminating the water supply.

The Park City School District has a new well that was put near the football field far away from the source of the contamination.

"It comes out of the well here on the football field that comes into our chlorination station," Grabowska said. "And then from there, it's pumped to the school."

The new well and treatment equipment cost $400,000.

Stillwater County secured a $130,000 grant and Park City Schools received a $271,417 grant through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

"We were afraid if we didn't have that ARPA, we were going to have to go and bond the whole project," Grabowska said.

The water is just one of several challenges district has faced.

Park City school enrollment has grown from about 298 to 325 in five years.

The district has had to use four modulars for classrooms.

Several bond proposals to build a new school have failed.

"Park City kids, students in general, have not been invested in the last 15 years,” said Dayle Stahl, a Park City resident. “And we just need to move forward and start investing in our kids."

Grabowska says it may be a couple years before the district brings a new bond proposal before voters but says it likely won't include a new high school.

"We’d look at probably bond that somewhere in the $10 million range,” Grabowska said. That would just be classrooms. We probably look at a couple different variations of that."

But for now, the district is celebrating this win - clean water has returned to the school.