Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

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By Bruce Hall
Seeley Lake, Mont. 

It's Not Going Away


SEELEY LAKE - There are consequences to inaction as well as action.

In Seeley Lake we know we have a problem. Chemicals harmful to our health are just under our feet, in the groundwater under our town. Our wells are there too. A lake is next door. So far, it’s been left up to us to do something about it. People who work for us, mostly county employees, have helped us understand the size and scope of the problem and reviewed options. To slow the growth of the problem, those hired to protect us, in this case the County Health Department, have stopped approving septic systems in the most critical area – our town. That’s a consequence, and a problem in itself. It’s also only the first step in the county’s process.

The real problem is money; it’s at least an issue to everyone. Solving the health problem will be costly, but it’s important; so important that numerous agencies and organizations have offered help in the form of lots of money.

Turning down the help, ignoring the problem, of course won’t make it go away. Others have tried that strategy and learned, the hard way, there are consequences. We have a few who deny we have a problem. Blind denial won’t make it go away either. A letter to the Pathfinder on September 1, 2016 claimed we wouldn’t be forced into fixing the problem. It seems so simple; just turn it down, let it go. What could happen?

A few other communities have asked the same question. What could happen? They found out.

At Somers, in Flathead County on the north end of Flathead Lake, “enforcement action” was taken that required the community to put in a sewer system.

At Cascade, in Cascade County, around 1990, the town turned down $3 million in grants and aid. A couple years later they were forced to clean up their act, but this time only received $1.5 million, and costs had gone up considerably. Sound familiar?

Philipsburg, in Granite County, like us, is currently in the crosshairs. Florence, in Ravalli County, has escaped – so far.

Closer to home, in this county, the Linda Vista addition, a community on the southwest edge of Missoula, decided not to hook up to the city sewer system. Like us, they had been offered money to defray the cost. Still, they declined. Now they’ve paid to hook up, and without help.

Interest rates are expected to double; construction costs continue to rise.

The downstream consequences may not be immediately important to some Seeley Lake residents, but they are important to the county, state and our health.

Go ahead, roll the dice, see what happens. In the immortal words of “Dirty Harry” Callahan, do you feel lucky?


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