Whitefish looks at variance for pollution standards

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The Whitefish City Council tonight will consider asking the state for a variance from nutrient criteria the city can’t meet with conventional wastewater treatment technologies.

Whitefish is in the Northern Rockies Ecoregion for which “tremendously low” nitrogen and phosphorus limits were set, according to Whitefish Public Works Director Craig Workman. The ecoregion-based standards approach the limits of available treatment technology and likely would push the cost well beyond Whitefish’s current proposed $17.5 million water treatment upgrade.

“Montana law allows for the granting of nutrient standards variances based on the particular economic and financial situation of a permittee,” Workman noted in his transmittal report to the council. “Individual nutrient standards variances may be granted on a case-by-case basis because the attainment of the base numeric nutrient standards is precluded due to economic impacts, limits of technology or both.”

Asking for a variance was recommended to Whitefish by the state Department of Environmental Quality as a viable option to consider, Workman said.

In other business, the council will hold a number of public hearings as the city continues the process of annexing parcels throughout the city.

A hearing is scheduled to consider a conditional-use permit request from Catherine Faerber to build an accessory apartment at 604 Somers Ave.

A work session that begins at 5 p.m. focuses on establishing an aquatic invasive species prevention program for the city.

At 6 p.m. Habitat for Humanity representatives will give a presentation, outlining opportunities for the city to partner on home-building projects.

The regular meeting begins at 7:10 p.m. Both the work session and meeting will be held at the interim City Hall, 1005 Baker Ave.

For more information, visit http://www.cityofwhitefish.org.

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