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Current Events: Addressing runoff in Missoula’s South Hills

Missoula South Hills
Posted at 9:42 AM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 11:42:54-05

MISSOULA — We talked with Martin Kidston, the founding editor of the Missoula Current to learn more about who to deal with runoff in the South Hills -- and earthquakes.

“One of the interesting things that came up in a city council meeting this week is runoff in the South Hills. The city is going to be addressing that runoff in a variety of ways, the primary way specifically. Part of it goes back to earthquakes we had in 2016 and 2020, I'm sure some Missoula folks remember that. Those earthquakes uprooted some springs and some seeps. That water as it bubbles up is running on to roads and this time of year it turns the roads into ice skating rinks, which causes problems especially in hilly terrains,” Kidston explained.

“The city is going to be extending the stormwater and installing some additional drains to try and capture that water and divert them back into the stormwater system. The other thing I found interesting is at the base of the South Hills is Cattail Park -- it's about 3/4 of an acre park with Cattails, birds and things. It's kind of a nice place, but its really designed to capture stormwater that comes down from the South Hills and over the last 20 years the sedimentation has begun to fill that pond,” Kidston said.

“So, it's not working as good as a retention center as well as it could. And the cattails have taken over the pond, reducing its biodiversity,” Kidston continued. “This summer the city is going to be working on the pond, increasing its retention rate by removing some of the sediment and the cattails as well. They'll be putting in some dry well pumps to try and help the issue as well. Those are some interesting things that I didn't know anything about until last week.”

The City of Missoula is also talking about the recreation area at Sha'Ron.

“It's never too early to look forward to the floating on the river. And anyone who has floated the river a time or two has put in there at Sha'ron in East Missoula. You're lucky if you can find a parking spot in that tiny little parking lot,” Kidston noted. “People are parking up and down the road and its really hard to drive on the road with people walking and the cars, trying not to get hit. Finally, after a couple years of work they're going to be installing 84 parking spots along the existing parking lot and there will be a trail connecting the new parking lot to the put-in site. Those additional spots will go a long way to alleviating some of the dangers."

Sha'ron has been a really dangerous area and so it's amazing more people haven't been impacted by that.

“That's been their concern for a long time. It's been a dangerous situation and it's just a matter of time before somebody gets hurt or worse. There's a lot of kids there, having river toys, so having a legitimate parking lot will go a long ways to making that a safer experience for everybody,” Kidston concluded.