Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Dixon Agency waits for water

By Alyssa Kelly

DIXON — You don’t miss your water until your well runs dry. The residents of the Dixon Agency know that feeling too well (no pun intended). Due to a contaminated source well the Dixon Agency residents continue to rely on shipments of fresh water. To remedy the situation the Salish Kootenai Housing Authority (SKHA) has made recent advancements in its pursuit to find a safe ground water source that will adequately supply the 35-lot community. A test well will be drilled in a new location by the first week of April.

Based on a geographical report of the area and a water witching method, the test well will be drilled on tribal property a quarter mile south of SKHA’s recently attempted water well test. The well will be examined for its ability to produce quality drinking water that can pump at least 50 gallons per minute. If the source is deemed adequate, a new mainline will be constructed to supply the Dixon Agency.

“The area’s water has high levels of natural occurring metals and minerals so finding a good location has been difficult,” said SKHA Water and Sewer Operations Manager Bud Gillin. “We manage all the water and sewer operations for tribal housing on the reservation and the Agency has been the most unique situation we’ve faced.”

The Dixon Agency’s water supply tested positive for high levels of natural occurring lead and arsenic — minerals that can be lethal if consumed in high quantities. To aid the situation, SKHA drilled a $50,000 well last February. However it pumped only 15 gallons per minute and tested positive for lead and arsenic, consequently the project was deemed unsuccessful.

SKHA was recently granted $180,000 through the Indian Health Service and the Indian Community Development Block Grant Program to drill a new well for Dixon Agency. The project will include a tank and drainage. “If the test well is unsuccessful we will not continue with construction,” Gillin said. “We will then meet with Tribal Council to determine what our next options will be.”

Dixon Agency is deemed the oldest housing project on the Flathead Reservation. It was constructed through the Tribal Land’s Department. While SKHA manages the community’s water and sewer operations, only 13 of 24 units are managed under SKHA’s low-income housing program. Eleven units are privately owned and 11 lots are vacant but supplied with water and sewer lines.

For more information contact Bud Gillin at (306) 675-4491, ext. 1532.

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