Hands Across The Water: Red Lodge helps out Worden Ballantine District

Alastair Baker
News Editor
Thursday, July 25, 2019
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Photo by Alastair Baker
Rick Coyle, Operations Manager for the Worden Ballantine Yellowstone County Water and Sewer District, shakes hands with Red Lodge Mayor Bill Larson on receiving a donation of several pallets of bottled water. Also present is Jim Bushnell, Red Lodge Public Works Director.

Rick Coyle, Operations Manager for the Worden Ballantine Yellowstone County Water and Sewer District, came by Red Lodge last week after Mayor Bill Larson offered to donate bottled water to his community. 

The Worden and Ballantine areas are having a serious nitrate issue with the public water system. The nitrate levels tested high on June 12 deeming the water unfit to drink especially for children six months or younger and for any pregnant women. 

Even boiling the water will not make it safer. 

Coyle said there are a lot of factors involved with the high nitrate levels, “some agriculture, some livestock possibly, and the last two springs we’ve had with rain and snow.”

“So everything has filtered on down to where we are now,” he said. 

Coyle’s district services between 1,200 and 1,500 people and includes the school that has over 800 students and staff. 

“This is the first offer. It is a great, super offer and I appreciate it. It was like an angel stepped down,” said Coyle on receiving the donation.

Mayor Larson first heard of the problem on the news.

“I knew we had water left over from our crisis in February and this is just a way for us to move it on to our neighbors. That is what Red Lodge is, we share,” Larson said. “When we were in time of need we had so many counties reaching out to us and offering help to us, and this a good way for us to give back.”

“Like Red Lodge, we’re a small community,” said Coyle. “Our systems, our facilities, have aged. We need monies and monies are tough to come by. So any gracious effort that somebody offers we’ll accept and hopefully down the road we will be able to help them,” said Coyle.

“We owe a big thank you to Red Lodge,” he said. 

“It’s a neighborly thing and that’s what it is all about,” said Larson.