Attend the Milltown Project Public Meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010 from 6:30-8:00 PM. The meeting will be held in the Bonner School Library, Bonner, Montana.
Scientists and project managers will provide updates on remediation, restoration and redevelopment of the surrounding area. For more information see Milltown / Clark Fork Events Calendar.
Background on Milltown Dam and the Superfund site:
Milltown Dam was located on the Clark Fork River about seven miles east of Missoula, Montana. It was built in 1906-07 by copper mining magnate, William A. Clark, to provide power to his Bonner, Montana sawmills. A few months after the dam was completed, a record flood on the Clark Fork washed tons of mining waste and sediment downstream from the mining operations in the Anaconda and Butte areas. The toxic materials settled at the base of the dam and remained there until the dam was removed more than 100 years later.
In 1983, arsenic was found in wells near the Milltown reservoir. Through citizen action and much study, the EPA designated the Milltown Reservoir Sediments Superfund Site is part of the largest Superfund complex in the western United States. The complex covers the area upstream of the Clark Fork River from the Milltown Dam to the Warm Springs Ponds near Butte.
Not only did the dam hold the accumulated toxic sediment that contaminated the river, it blocked fish from moving upstream in the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers. Before the dam, bull trout and cutthroat historically migrated upstream to spawn in smaller streams such as Rock Creek and various tributaries of the Blackfoot. With the dam in place, bull trout became almost extinct in the middle Clark Fork River and all trout numbers were lower than they should be.
The dam was removed in 2009 and restoration and redevelopment are being implemented over at least a three year period. The goal is to restore the area and river to a toxic-free, naturally functioning channel and floodplain. The Clark Fork will once again be a clean, free flowing river.
Activities after the dam
Ongoing and upcoming restoration work monitoring, maintenance projects are as follows:
- Continue surface, groundwater and domestic well monitoring;
- Continue well servicing program;
- Continue to remove material from upstream of project area and reconstruct floodplain
- Upstream river restoration work
- Continue site redevelopment and park planning – Two NRDP grants and federal funding awarded for Milltown area work;
- This fall, finish seeding and mulching
- This fall, complete I-90 corner work (where the Blackfoot River and bypass channel north side meet)
- This fall, complete repairs along the east and west side embankments of I-90 along the Blackfoot River
- This fall, the State of Montana and the Clark Fork Coalition plan to remove logs and piers from the Blackfoot River (NRD grant)
The total recovery project is scheduled over a three year period; 2010, 2011, and 2012.
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