Yellowstone Water Projects Underway

July 7, 2003

A wastewater treatment plant will be replaced in Yellowstone National Park this summer, as part of continued efforts to upgrade the park’s aging water and sewage facilities.

A new sewer plant was built at Old Faithful last fall, and the new facility for the Norris area west of Canyon Village should be online by the end of the summer, park spokeswoman Cheryl Matthews explained to the Associated Press.

Between $2 million and $5.5 million was allocated for the work, which is part of a $22 million, five-year construction and maintenance program created to address a $75 million backlog in water and wastewater projects.

Other projects were planned at Grant Village, the Youth Conservation Corps camp and a sewer line at Old Faithful.

Problems such as failing main lines, poor fencing and inadequate grease traps cause clogs and overflows that plague the park’s other facilities.

Most of the systems were installed in the 1940s and have suffered due to the park’s frequently shifting ground, and hot, caustic groundwater.

In its 2000 report, the National Park Service admitted it "inadequately maintained" many of the systems.

Last Wednesday, Interior Secretary Gale Norton issued a new report touting improvements in Yellowstone, Glacier and other national parks.

Environmentalists have criticized Norton’s efforts to reduce a $4.9 billion maintenance backlog inherited by the Bush administration, as well as her department’s support of several energy projects near national parks.

The National Parks Conservation Alliance and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition questioned the report’s accuracy and said it did not address certain issues, such as its failure to fill positions for interpretive rangers at Yellowstone.

Source: The Associated Press