Local residents welcome new water line

A new water line with 55 new taps that provides roughly 120 to 130 people with safe, clean water from an artesian well east of Greybull has just been completed, and those who have hooked up to it are finding it well worth the cost. 

“We actually have our evenings again,” said Stephanie May, one of those served by the line. Before the line was put in, the Mays had to haul water every night for their stock and their house. The well on their property was not able to be used for animal, plant or human use, so in the winter when their stock was at home from pasture, they hauled three loads of water every night. 

“This is why this was so needed,” said John Joyce, manager of the South Big Horn County Water District. “There are a lot of people in the area we have added that either had to haul water or had to add treatment systems to their water due to the low quality.”

The seed for this expansion started nearly 15 years ago when a group of people talked to the Town of Greybull seeking an expansion of the Greybull city water service along Greybull River Road. It didn’t work out, so that group joined with a group of landowners west of Basin.

Meetings were held, sign-ups were taken, and it was determined that the need existed so things moved to the next step, which was feasibility and funding. 

 “The cost of the project, including engineering, right-of-ways and construction came to roughly $6 million dollars,” said Joyce. “The bulk of that amount was paid by grants from the Wyoming Water Development Commission and the USDA Rural Development Agency. A loan for $565,000 was taken out that will have to be paid back by the users.”

The project includes 18 miles of pipe — approximately half is 10-inch mainline and the rest is 4- to 6-inch distribution line.  

“The 10-inch line terminates at the intersection of the Greybull River Road and State Highway 30,” said Joyce. “We did plan for expansion in case Burlington ever needs to hook onto the system. At this time Burlington’s water is supplied by their own well, but the time might come that it would be advantageous for them and others along the highway to be able to get water from the system. We were fortunate that the funding entities had the foresight to be willing to fund the full cost of the system with the expansion in mind. Also to help facilitate the expansion of the line the pumping station was designed to accept two more pumps.”

The majority of the water for this line will be coming from a well east of Greybull that is one of eight wells managed by the Big Horn Regional Joint Powers Board. It includes Greybull, Basin, Worland, the South Big Horn County Joint Powers Board, Washakie County and clear to Lucerne in Hot Springs County. Water from the wells serves the towns of Basin, Manderson, Greybull and rural areas in between. 

So how soon will the expansion come? 

“We are not sure,” said Joyce. “It will take a major grassroots effort to get it started, just like this project did. The people who will be served have to make it known that they want it. Then the SBHC Water District and the Joint Powers Board will go to work and get it started.”

By Steva Dooley