Voice of the River

Big Sky Water Plan Update

Big Sky Water Plan Update; Join the Public Meeting on June 17 to Learn More 

The history of water conservation in Big Sky goes back decades, with a defining moment in 2018 when community stakeholders collaborated with the Gallatin River Task Force to create the Big Sky Sustainable Watershed Stewardship Plan (Plan). With the more recent benchmarks like the Big Sky Water and Sewer District’s Water Resource Recovery Facility coming online and the Yellowstone Club beginning to use reclaimed water for snowmaking, Big Sky’s efforts to lead the charge on protecting our water resources have kicked even further into high gear. We invite you to join us for a Big Sky Water Plan Update to learn more about the future of Big Sky and it’s water resources. 

2018 Big Sky Water Plan

The Plan that was conceived in 2018 is a community and stakeholder-driven effort. From the very beginning, and through today’s efforts, the Plan has been supported in large part by both Madison and Gallatin Counties and the Big Sky Resort Area District (BSRAD). The shared goal of this Plan, in 2018 and for today and the future is to advance water conservation efforts across nonprofit, private, local, and state partners, and chart a more unified and intentional future for Big Sky’s water. And as some of these larger projects are coming to fruition, so too is an update to the 2018 plan, setting the stage to help advance actions that will position Big Sky as a model mountain community in the realm of water use and conservation.

In 2018, the Plan convened stakeholders around a definitive vision, stating:

Big Sky strives to be a model mountain community by protecting and improving water resources, sustaining ecological health of the watersheds, and supporting a vibrant local economy.

With that vision in mind, partners worked together to create solutions focused on building climate resilience in Big Sky, restoring important habitat, and seeking environmental protection of the Gallatin River. Since that time, a variety of accomplishments whose outcomes will contribute to a cold, clean Gallatin in the future have been achieved, including:

  • Executing various restoration projects aimed at slowing the flow of water down to help combat drought, improve water quality, and create buffers against wildfire. 
  • Conserving our community’s limited water sources through snowmaking with reclaimed water, which serves to bolster low snowpack and preserve drinking water.  
  • Creating the Gallatin Canyon Water and Sewer District, with the goal of reducing pollution from failing septic systems in the Gallatin canyon. 

Much has changed since the Plan’s initial introduction in 2018. Big Sky has grown exponentially and the stress that has been placed on our water resources has also grown. This year’s warm, dry winter may have been a glimpse into the future, as climate change is projected to have a significant impact on snowpack in Montana and across the West in the coming years. With that in mind, an update to the Plan was necessary to help equip the Big Sky community with tools and strategies to better face these new and evolving challenges. 

The Future of Water Use in Big Sky

Today’s goal starts with much the same intention; to convene experts and stakeholders to identify the next steps, by establishing the 2024 Big Sky Sustainable Watershed Stewardship Plan in a way that uses sound science to direct what lies ahead. The intention is to adopt new tactics that shape the next phase of a Water Plan, so that Big Sky can continue to push the boundaries of water conservation in the West. The critical next steps are creating public awareness, hearing input, and inviting feedback, and we are excited to share the Plan and our process with the public.

We invite the community to join the Gallatin River Task Force and all the partners involved in this process for a public meeting June 17th from 5:30 to 7:00 PM at the Wilson Hotel, to learn more about what the future holds for Big Sky’s water resources. 

 

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