I and 114 other citizens filed a petition to the Board of Health in Flathead county Montana to have a proposed septage dump site stopped from starting within the bounds of our neighborhood. In our initial meeting with the Board in August of 2008 it was suggested that we visit an existing dump site. The existing dump site was within a mile fo the proposed site and after observations and gaining familiarity with the rules and regulations governing septage dumping, we discovered many violations with the second site.
What was particularly disturbing was that the seond site is on a high water table. This water flows towards the Swan River and eventually into Flathead Lake. We do not know if there is contamination or not, but the probability might very well be possible. If you can dig a hole in line of site of the dump site and water appears, I think the risk is very high. Our main objection to the proposed site was that there was no inclusion of the surrounding neighbors from the State or the County. The permit process had falsehoods on the application and the salient points of the effects of the Physical, Biological, Social, and Environmental predicted impacts was all checked off as none for impact. This part of the permit was filled out by the Department of Environmental Quality in Helena, Montana. We took exception to all of the "none" impacts and stated our reasons along with the odor and air quality rules that are part of the Environment Health Division of the Flathead County Health Board. In order to get some resolution to this, a copy of our presentation was submitted to the Director of the Environmental Quality Office in Helena, Montana, Mr. Richard Opper.
After a month his reply had at it core defense that the DEQ does not have adequate personnell to enforce rule violations with the pumpers or land owners. On the issue of all the major impacts we had outlined, the premise was made by the DEQ office that becasue there were no complaints at the active site, that there would be no complaints at the proposed site. The two sites are as different as night and day. The reality is that there are 14 active sites in Flathead county and most people are ignorant of what rights they have and who or what they can complain too. My formal complaint to the District office of the EPA and a representative at the Helena, Montana office was nothing more than a formality. They in so many words said they have no authority. The 503 rule for dumping biosolids is the basis for the state run DEQ policy, but with no oversight or follow-up of rule violations the affected citizens have little or no recourse. Help!
James F. Bonser, Bigfork MT