The Gallatin Canyon County Water and Sewer District (Canyon District) is reaching out to property owners in the Proposed Sewer Service Area to increase awareness of the upcoming Canyon Sewer Project. Project engineering and permitting has commenced with the target of starting construction in 2026.
Our near-term priority is to identify landowners interested in joining the Canyon District and answer questions about the annexation process.
Purpose of Annexation - Environmental Benefits, Access to Funding
Most of the parcels within the proposed service area are presently on individual septic systems, all of which are discharging to the same aquifer as shallow drinking water wells in the area draw from, causing contamination concerns. Engineering studies completed on behalf of the Gallatin River Task Force and the Canyon District have identified properties neighboring the planned sewer collection corridor along Highway 191 that provide the best opportunity for removal of existing nutrient loads to the Gallatin River and pathogen risk to private wells.
Expanding the district results in greater benefit to Big Sky water resources. A broader district boundary also allows for more comprehensive long-term planning and increases the likelihood of securing grants that will be used to offset connection fees for future users. Nearly $15 million has been secured to date and the Canyon District is continuing to seek funds with the goal of substantially reducing connection costs for those property owners with existing septic systems.
Steps of Annexation
Step 1 - Petition to Annex
By submitting a Petition to Annex, property owners are expressing interest in connecting to the proposed sewer service but are not obligated to connect. Annexation offers property owners the option to connect in the earliest phase of the project. The project also seeks to achieve a “net-nutrient reduction” goal that may ultimately limit the number of new connections, for which the district anticipates incorporating a “first come, first serve” approach to allocating service capacity.
Montana Code Annotated (MCA) 7-13-2341 defines how the Canyon District can grow. Growth can be accomplished through annexation by a petition of contiguous property owners who would like to join or through a vote. The petition to annex would allow annexation of petitioning properties that are adjacent to the existing Canyon District through a simple Canyon District board vote. Petitioning properties that are not adjacent to the Canyon District would be added to a ballot for annexation through a vote of existing Canyon District members.
Step 2 - Service Agreement
Costs to users are still highly variable and are dependent on many factors including final design, bid price for construction, number of users, funding package, how costs are spread between existing and new development or between domestic and commercial users, and other variables. As costs become more defined over 2023-2024, the Canyon District will coordinate Service Agreements with individual parcel owners, HOA’s and private utility owners. Preliminary budgetary connection fees and user rates are currently being evaluated and estimates will be presented at the October 2023 Canyon District Board meeting. Meeting details will be posted on the Canyon District website here.
Annexation, Service Agreement & Project Timeline
The Canyon District is encouraging all interested property owners to petition for annexation. Petitions to annex into the Canyon District can be made at any time; however, to be considered for inclusion in Phase 1, the Canyon District is requesting petitions be submitted by March, 2024. Our goal is to advance the Phase 1 project design and develop a preliminary funding package by early 2024. Service Agreement coordination is anticipated commence in 2024 and finalized in early 2025.