A private foundation based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming has donated $500,000 to assist with funding for a Seeley Lake sewer system.

Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss said on Thursday, November 21 that the sewer board in Seeley Lake received the grant for the first phase of the system after spending several years planning.

"The septic systems in the area all seemed to run toward the lake," Curtis said. "To protect the lake, they formed the sewer board that's been working for years to design and build a sewer system. The exciting piece is that the LOR Foundation out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming has decided to grant them half a million dollars toward building them that sewer system.

Curtiss said that even that large donation will in no way pay for the entire project.

"It's millions of dollars for a complete sewer system," Curtiss said. "Right now, Senator Baucus is working to get funds from a federal program that he says are allocated but not obligated to this project, and we're hoping to get some direction from congress to let us have some funding from that."

The problem with building a sewer system from scratch is the enormous cost.

"While the need is there for a sewer system in the more densely populated parts of town, there's only a few people to pay for it," Curtiss said. "The only way it's feasible is having some grants, and that's why we're so appreciative of this one."

Curtiss said representatives from the foundation visited Seeley Lake over the summer.

"I had the privilege of hanging out with some members of the LOR Foundation in June as we talked to people in the community," Curtiss said. "In my opinion, the LOR people were really impressed with the fact that the folks in Seeley Lake worked for four years on their land-use plan. In fact, the pilots club paid to have somebody fly us over the valley so they could really see what the valley looks like, to see those chains of lakes. We talked to them about the love the residents have for their community to try to keep it safe and clean."

Final design of the project has been authorized by the Seeley Lake Sewer District Board and Missoula County. Both continue to explore additional funding opportunities. Construction of the system should begin in 2014 or 2015.

There will be an informal celebration of the LOR Foundation grant on Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m. at Lindy's Restaurant in Seeley Lake.kly

Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss