November 21, 2003
Tom Farrell, 605-745-1130
Wind Cave National Park will join with the City of Hot Springs in building a ten-mile long sewer line as a result of a decision made by the National Park Service Midwest Regional Director Ernie Quintana and the Hot Springs City Council. Regional Director Quintana signed the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for an Environmental Assessment for the Project to Replace the Failing Wastewater Treatment Facility. The city had previously voted in favor of the plan.
This project will replace the existing three sewage lagoons that, except for emergency actions, would have overflowed three times in the last ten years. Superintendent Linda L. Stoll said, “Our current system is not working. This project will allow us, along with private landowners along the route of the pipeline, to hook into the Hot Springs municipal system and protect the Madison Aquifer from untreated wastewater.”
Planning for this project included public scoping in February 2002 and culminated with a 30-day comment period last spring. The park’s Facility Manager, Steve Schrempp, a professional engineer, said, “As a result of comments received, we made substantial changes to our original design, and we feel this modified preferred alternative will ensure the safety of the area’s groundwater.”
The new preferred alternative calls for a force main (pressurized pipeline) to be constructed from the park’s developed area to its southern boundary along Highway 385. The National Park Service (NPS) will oversee construction for this four-mile stretch of line. The remaining 5.7 miles of pipeline south of the park will function primarily by gravity flow into town. This stretch will be funded by the NPS but designed, constructed, owned, and maintained by the city. Both sections of the line will be designed by a professional engineer.
The park will work closely with state officials to ensure the project will meet or exceed current state and federal guidelines for sewer system construction. Schrempp added, “We looked at many alternatives, from modifying the existing ponds to building a wastewater treatment plant, and this alternative consistently scored the highest of all the options.”
The park will pay the city a monthly sewer user fee, as do other commercial users, and a portion of the line’s maintenance cost should the city require it.
Construction is planned to begin next summer or fall. Copies of the FONSI are available at the Hot Springs, Custer, and Rapid City libraries, at the Wind Cave Visitor Center, or online at www.nps.gov/wica/Park_Documents.htm.