Photo of Billings Water Plant from the Four Dances Overlook - July 2022
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Certified operators and laboratory personnel oversee the entire Water System and processes 24 hours per day, every day of the year. This steadfast commitment ensures that our systems always exceed the requirements of regulatory bodies for both operations and product.
The City of Billings water treatment and distribution system includes
- City of Billings Rules and Regulations Governing Water and Wastewater Service (PDF)
- Federal Safe Drinking Water Act
- Administrative Rules of Montana
- Monitoring Waiver 2020-2028
The Public Works Department staffs a State Certified Laboratory responsible for testing and monitoring the water quality. Testing is performed throughout the entire treatment processes, as well as testing while in the distribution system. We perform many hundreds of tests and analysis monthly to ensure that we deliver a superior quality product for your drinking water.
Each month, we submit a detailed report to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality documenting our compliance with all applicable regulations. We publish a monthly water quality report for the Yellowstone River, which is our water source, and for our finished drinking water product.
Access the current water quality data:
The current rates and fees were adopted by the City Council on May 24, 2021, become effective July 1, 2022, and are available to view in their entirety in Resolution 21-10953 (PDF). The amended resale rate of $2.97 per kGal becomes effective July 1, 2022. Please find details in the Resolution 22-11041.
The City’s water rate structure consists of two components: a fixed monthly charge based on the size of the water meter at each connection, and a series of volumetric rates assessed based on total water use as measured in units of one-thousand gallons (kGal).
The City of Billings regularly reviews the water and wastewater rates to determine whether the current rates are generating adequate revenue to cover the cost of providing safe drinking water and wastewater services to the entire community. Safe drinking water and reliable infrastructure is a priority for the City in order to accommodate current needs and future growth.
Water Metered Monthly Charges Within City
|Customer Class||Volume||Rate per kGal|
|Residential - Tier 1||0-10,000 gallons||$3.72|
|Residential - Tier 2||11,000- 32,000 gallons||$4.45|
|Residential - Tier 3||33,000- 75,000 gallons||$5.79|
|Residential - Tier 4||> 75,000 gallons||$8.69|
|Bulk Water Resellers||$3.86|
Water Metered Monthly Charges Outside City
|Customer Class||Volume||Rate per kGal|
|Residential - Tier 1||0- 10,000 gallons||$3.85|
|Residential - Tier 2||11,000- 32,000 gallons||$4.61|
|Residential - Tier 3||33,000- 75,000 gallons||$6.02|
|Residential - Tier 4||> 75,000 gallons||$9.01|
Billings Public Works may propose an increase to existing rates when necessary. These changes would be reflected in the fixed monthly minimum charges and the volume charges for water and wastewater, private fire protection, permit and other miscellaneous special fees.
The rate adjustments are needed to cover the increasing cost of service due to community growth and increased utilization. Providing for necessary future improvements and facility expansion to accommodate the needs of the community is also a consideration when rate changes are requested.
Conservation to Maintain Affordable Water Rates
The City of Billings actively promotes conservation through its water rate structure, to both conserve its water supply and to manage long-term capital needs. As the City continues to grow, additional infrastructure will be needed to meet increased capacity requirements. The intent of the conservation rate structure is to enable users to work together to manage total peak water use demands, and thus wastewater flows, to effectively delay future water and wastewater system expansion needs. This saves everyone money.
To request service or make changes to your account please call our service center at 406-657-8315.
Water Treatment Plant History
In 1885, several prominent businessmen formed the Billings Water Power Company and began construction of a waterworks facility. At that time, the waterworks facility housed an 80-horsepower waterwheel to generate electricity for the City and a 1.25-million-gallon-a-day (MGD) pump that delivered an estimated 150,000 gallons per day of untreated water to the City through 5.25 miles of distribution pipe.
The City of Billings purchased the waterworks in 1915 for $315,000. The plant has undergone many upgrades and expansions and now provides complete conventional treatment for up to 60 MGD.
Our Water Source
The Yellowstone River, a high-quality surface water source and the longest free-flowing river in the country, is the source of our drinking water.
On its 640-mile journey from Yellowstone Park, the water picks up contaminants, such as microorganisms, organic and inorganic contaminants, suspended solids and trace contaminants from upstream agricultural and industrial activities. The City’s water treatment facility plays a critical role in removing these contaminants to provide us with safe, high-quality drinking water.
Water Treatment Process
The Gerald D. Underwood Water Treatment Plant has two raw water intake structures:
- Intake Number 1 is a side channel diversion and is the primary intake.
- Intake Number 2 is a brick structure in the middle of the river and is designed primarily for emergency use.
Water then goes through four basic steps.
- Step One: Coagulation This process uses chemicals such as polymers and polyaluminum chloride to alter the electrical charge on small suspended particles so they to become "sticky".
- Step Two: Flocculation Next, water is mixed with just enough energy to cause the "sticky" particles to clump together and form larger particles with enough mass to settle out of the water.
- Step Three: Sedimentation The large clumps of particles (floc) settle to the bottom of the basin. The plant has both a primary settling basin and a finishing basin. This step typically removes about 95% of the suspended solids in the water.
- Step Four: Disinfection / Filtration The plant uses a two-stage disinfection plan. Chlorine is used to inactivate the health risks associated with microorganisms. The chlorinated water is filtered through 12 dual media filters. These filters are made up of sand and anthracite coal that capture any particles remaining after coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation. The secondary disinfection technology is an ultraviolet (UV) light system, which provides an extra layer of protection by neutralizing any chlorine-resistant microorganisms. After the processed water leaves the plant, a chlorine residual is maintained throughout the distributed water and pipes of the city as a safeguard against the possibility of any subsequent microbial contamination.
The Control Room is the control center for monitoring and controlling the entire plant treatment process. It also monitors and controls the pumps and reservoirs in the distribution system. This is accomplished by using computers, sensors, monitors, radio and fiber optic communication and specialized software programming that are tied to a SCADA system (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System).
The plant has two, five-million gallon reservoirs that store the treated water long enough for the chlorine to do its job while also providing system storage.
Water treated at the plant must be pumped into the distribution system. The plant’s High Service Pump Station, made up of 12 pumps with different capacities, is responsible for delivering water into the distribution system.