Billings Public Works provides many of the basic services that affect the daily lives of everyone who lives and works in Billings. Primarily, the department is responsible for all the things we take for granted on a daily basis: the administration, planning, maintenance, construction management and technical engineering of the City's infrastructure. David Mumford P.E. has served at the Public Works Director since October 2001. He is a true professional, who can tell about all aspects of the work of his department. He is also a great conversationalist who can tell simple and interesting about serious and important things. JBN: Please introduce Public Works Department of Billings... David Mumford P.E.: Public Works is the largest department in the city. We have 250 full-time employees. And our budget this year is 165 million. We are revenue for services so we are not tax-based or funded by the General Fund. Public Works includes handling engineering for all the projects in the city, solid waste services both collection and landfill, water and wastewater both plant processing and all the distribution and collection. All the street maintenance and environmental engineering for the city fall under Public Works. So its a very broad-based organization. JBN: Your department prepared Integrated Water Plan. Please tell more about it... David Mumford P.E.: We have been working on the idea of how to deal with water long term needs. We secured our water rights which are fairly significant. One real concern is we get all of our water from the Yellowstone River at the lowest place in the city. So we have to pump all the water uphill to all City residents The plant currently handles the water volumes, but we have some summer days when people are watering lawns where the water plant is at its capacity. But long-term we need to look at redundancy so that if something happens to the river , we have enough water in storage. On a regular basis we get low water flows in the winter when we get ice jams that shut the plant down. Or because the plant is over 100 years old even though we have made upgrades to it. So we have been looking at how to deal with long-term water. We looked at everything from recycling the wastewater and all the different options. One thing that came to us in looking around is the Knife River gravel pit that is located on Shiloh and Hesper Road. They have finished excavating out their gravel pits so we started looking at it and a good use of a gravel pit is a reservoir. It already has groundwater and Knife River cannot go any deeper than the shale. We started to analyze it and in the analysis, it came to us that we could provide about the 290-acre lake that would supply 8 months of water if we ever needed it. Right now the way the city of Billings is that the reservoirs and pipe storage between 8 and 10 hours we run out of the water and it is less in the summer time. It takes about 2 hours to get the plant back running once we have to shut it down. So we have 4 to 6-hour window of a problem and then we start running into issues with being able to supply water to the people. This is just not acceptable for a city this size and we have been spending 10s of millions of dollars on water reservoirs but its really hard to keep up with. In the winter time, the demand is such that we shut reservoirs off because there is not enough water and it would freeze in the tanks. So we have even less water stored in the winter. In the City of Billings because we all are trying to make a desert green as you know. We run about 18 to 19 million gallons a day in the winter time but over 60 million gallons of the day during the summer. So we have this huge summertime demand. What we are looking at is building reservoirs out of the gravel pits. That way we would receive water from the bbwa canal. We have talked to the BBWA and they are open to the concept, but it is not finalized yet. The canal runs right next to the gravel pits so we could take our water rights and a portion of it and use the canal to convey it. Then fill the reservoirs on a year-round basis using the canal as a way of getting it there. Then we don't have to put the water in pipes or pumps.. It would naturally feed it. After that, we would put a second water treatment plant on the westend that would have about 20 million gallons a day which we could supply the entire city off the second plant. In the summertime, it would help reduce the demands. One the other things that are happening as a community is the water plant that is currently where it's starting to max out on days where we are at a point it cannot produce more water. We have to upgrade that plant or build a new one. It's cheaper to build a new one rather than to upgrade pipes etc on the existing plant. We have to make sure we have water as it's a scarce commodity. we are fortunate to have the Yellowstone River, but its vulnerable to an oil spill, low water, or any number of things. What we presented to City Council a week ago is the concept of the reservoirs and knife river is open to the idea. The state, department of natural resources also likes the idea. The council told us to keep moving forward. So in the next years capital improvement plan, we will start with the purchase and design phase. Somewhat ambitious but we would like to have everything built within the next 5 or 6 years. The lake would provide a great amenity to Billings and will be 4 times the size of Lake Elmo. It would have trails, areas for folks to picnic or swim or fish as long as it's not a motorboat you could be on it and in it. It would make great recreational area right in town. This would provide long-term water to the city of Billings for hundred years. JBN: So would it not only solve the water issue but also become a kind of entertainment center in the west part of the city? David Mumford P.E.: The Shiloh conservation area is in the same area and is a stormwater detention area which means it cleans the stormwater by going through all the man-made wetlands. I was surprised at what an attraction it is to people they seem to love walking around. It has turned into an amenity park. It was supposed to be engineers building stormwater dentention but we ended up building something that people really enjoy. Adding the lakes really adds to that. It has a lot of positive aspects considering it will cost 50 million to build but costs 80 million to upgrade the existing plant so its cheaper. It has a lot of benefit to it. We are hoping also out of it that we can put piping in such that new subdivisions that are build out there can irrigate from untreated water so we don't spend all the money on to that water to throw it on the ground. So it would be more cost-effective and environmentally better and chlorinated water isn't good for the system being in the environment. It would be good to have naturally filtered water to water lawns. JBN: Do you have also some other project? David Mumford P.E.: We have many projects. This is just one project that we have going. Right now we currently rebuilding the waste-water treatment plant. This a 73 million dollar project to upgrade and meet new state and federal standards for waste-water discharge. Its the first phase but we are looking at what we can do to minimize the next ones. Most of the upgrade will be to treat phospherous and nitrogen which when it enters the river creates algae growth which can be detrimental. But we want to be sure the river is safe. Public works takes very seriously we have so much we are doing is that we take care of the environment. We make sure the river and the community are well taken care of and we are not doing anything detrimental to the river or wildlife. We would like to make sure we do all we can to do a good job that way. The staff takes that very seriously and really wants to do that. JBN: Residents of the city still remember the snowstorm at the end of the year. All the streets were plowed of snow pretty quick. Your department did really great job. Tell please about the routine of plowing the streets from snow in that winter. David Mumford P.E.: I t takes a long time to do it and just normal plowing like that last storm just the arterial streets to plow and haul it they worked 24 hours a day for 9 days. Just to get through the main roads just to plow it and haul it away and such. We really had staff working 24 hours a day for 9 days to do that. it's a big job. The staff very good and worked 12-hour shifts to make sure all plowing, hauling, and sanding was completed. The supervisors are great because they have to be there all the time. It's a really good group all of the public works. The garbage collection guys do a great job picking up ant a take care of it. That as another project. We are in the design of a transfer type center at the landfill. The new transfer station will be an area where citizens can dump their garbage inside a building,which will help with all the blowing of trash that can occur with high winds. This will also help with improving safety so that people will not be driving around landfill vehicles. We have heavy equipment burying and compacting trash. The trash will be sorted, taken to a specific area, and compacted. This will lengthen the life out of the landfill. Right now the landfill has about 40 to 50 years. We have an additional section that we are permitting for future so we have over 100 years of landfill left. This may not seem like a jewel but communities struggle with having a landfill. Communities go to recycling because they have no place to put their trash. We recognize what we do well and what we don't do well. Unfortunately recycling is expensive. There is so much hand sorting and following commodity markets, Public Works would rather support the companies here in town that do recycling and help them when we can. To support them, we do yard waste recycling, we have the ability to handle fuel, oils, electronics, and take these item to places who handle such waste. Hazardous waste we take and ship it out as part of the collection costs. Last year we handled over 350,000 tons of trash. JBN: What kind of difficulties your department is facing with garbage collection service here in Billings? David Mumford P.E.: Billings is windy. Our biggest problem is the small light plastic bags.. If you don't bag them when we dump them the wind takes them and they blow away and they are everywhere. The other thing we are hoping long-term with the building is to work with some of the organization in the town like habitat for humanity and rehab store people have lots of lumber, sheetrock, or cabinets for example that are still good. We would like to be able to separate those out and have those used by the public or organizations to build homes. Not to be buried but actually used that to try to benefit the community in a reuse mode. We are exploring whether or not we can give home builders a discount on dumping fees if they will separate some of the good stuff out that can be reused. If I don't have to bury it then I should be able to charge them somewhat less for doing that. JBN: Your department does so much work! I guess that many people even don't imagine how many different things running in the city thanks to Public Work Department. David Mumford P.E.: People just wanna know that their garbage their wastewater something happens to it and they hope its good. And we try really hard to do that. They wanna know when they turn on their water tap there is always water coming out. The streets are taken care of the storm drains are taken care of. We build things correctly. One of the things for the last 158 to 16years we try to change. The roads are not just for cars. there are trails, landscaping to make them more. When you drive down Zimmerman trail or drive down 24th the environment differs on how you feel on the road is because of the trail the landscaping. It's not so. If you have a hard surface it makes you tenser. We are trying to make sure the roads are good for people who want to ride bicycles, walk take transit. one of the things we are working on and I think would. It's tough when it snows. Hand shoveling the ADA ramps at intersections. We are selling all of those out recognizing that they are a part of our community that needs to get around that struggles. Especially in the winter time environment, we are trying to figure out ways to do that better. So everybody gets around. The community has changed a lot for that better. We are recognizing that people get around in all kinds of ways, not just in a car. The first real trails were only 14 years ago so a lot has happened in a short period of time. There is a recognition that especially by the City Council the past and current that if you want professional or younger people to come tot he community you have to private them with something to do after work and something to do on weekends. That is where the trails start to come in. In places for people to go. One of the nice things that Billings is recognized and moving towards. There a lot of positive groups trail net works with the city staff. Riverstone Health lots of good organizations that work with us to make it a better place. That is one thing nice there is not only just inside the city organizations but outside organizations that work with us and folks that are really interested in the community. Shilo conservation area we had Yellowstone River Park association donated benches. Wild birds unlimited put up bird's houses out there to better attract. Lots of small business and such has helped us with planting trees benches etc. JBN: If we come back to topic about plowing streets. How many inches of snow should we get that you would start to plowing? David Mumford P.E.: The main road's arterials we start plowing if we think we will get 3 inches. On small residential local streets where this is the first year we have plowed. We are saying that from talking to the council and costs it has to be over 3 inches between 3.5 to 4 then we will plow like we did this last time.. for the first time plowing especially for the private companies they did a very good job on the streets. We anticipated 6 days it took 7.5 but it was their first time and we got almost 15 inches of snow which is a lot to move at once. Once we plowed it we had slippery street because of the ice underneath. We are struggling with places to put the snow. That was a lot of snow to move. Moving snow around trying to figure out where to store it. JBN: Is there some kind of schedule for plowing residential streets? David Mumford P.E.: Residential we have 6 areas the city broke out for sweeping so we use that with the contractor to move through. We started on the south side this last time moved to the north, the heights and then downtown. The next time we will reverse that order. We keep rotating it so that nobody s always last. And then the arterials the main road our goal is to in about 36 to 48 hours and we can plow everything to the point where it's all driveable. That is our first goal to plow everything and then we start picking up the snow that's plowed to center and at that point if we can we try to make sure the trails are cleared. Parks and rec helped us with this last storm. We hopefully within 24 to 36 hours the trails are plowed after the storm ends. Try to get everything going. there are 37 people in streets split into 2 12 hours shifts there are not a lot of people working with all the equipment and such. We did hire more to do residential talking to the council by the time you bought all the equipment and hire the people and if you have winter with not much snow so we contracted out. There are a lot of construction companies with great operators with equipment sitting all winter. It's more effective than to hire any people. Use the private sector when they have great talent to help us. Keep people working. JBN: Last question about the constructions what we have on the streets every summer. Last year it was on the 6th noth street. What kind of works you did in that area and what projects do you have for summer 2018? David Mumford P.E.: We had water and sewer mains that were old that we had to replace so the work there at the division. For us was difficult it was congestive little area to get through. They were big pipes that were deep. They are done. That's all done. We will go confuse people somewhere else this summer. Every year we do about 7 to 8 million dollars worth of water and sewer replacement to try to keep up with the system. We are engineering where project will be next year.
Johnson’s Billings News
Hosted by Johnson Computing
They are read.  We are Quoted!!!
David Mumford P.E., man who has his finger on the pulse of the City
Interview
Photo by Billings Gazette
Billings Public Works provides many of the basic services that affect the daily lives of everyone who lives and works in Billings. Primarily, the department is responsible for all the things we take for granted on a daily basis: the administration, planning, maintenance, construction management and technical engineering of the City's infrastructure. David Mumford P.E. has served at the Public Works Director since October 2001. He is a true professional, who can tell about all aspects of the work of his department. He is also a great conversationalist who can tell simple and interesting about serious and important things. JBN: Please introduce Public Works Department of Billings... David Mumford P.E.: Public Works is the largest department in the city. We have 250 full-time employees. And our budget this year is 165 million. We are revenue for services so we are not tax-based or funded by the General Fund. Public Works includes handling engineering for all the projects in the city, solid waste services both collection and landfill, water and wastewater both plant processing and all the distribution and collection. All the street maintenance and environmental engineering for the city fall under Public Works. So its a very broad-based organization. JBN: Your department prepared Integrated Water Plan. Please tell more about it... David Mumford P.E.: We have been working on the idea of how to deal with water long term needs. We secured our water rights which are fairly significant. One real concern is we get all of our water from the Yellowstone River at the lowest place in the city. So we have to pump all the water uphill to all City residents The plant currently handles the water volumes, but we have some summer days when people are watering lawns where the water plant is at its capacity. But long-term we need to look at redundancy so that if something happens to the river , we have enough water in storage. On a regular basis we get low water flows in the winter when we get ice jams that shut the plant down. Or because the plant is over 100 years old even though we have made upgrades to it. So we have been looking at how to deal with long-term water. We looked at everything from recycling the wastewater and all the different options. One thing that came to us in looking around is the Knife River gravel pit that is located on Shiloh and Hesper Road. They have finished excavating out their gravel pits so we started looking at it and a good use of a gravel pit is a reservoir. It already has groundwater and Knife River cannot go any deeper than the shale. We started to analyze it and in the analysis, it came to us that we could provide about the 290-acre lake that would supply 8 months of water if we ever needed it. Right now the way the city of Billings is that the reservoirs and pipe storage between 8 and 10 hours we run out of the water and it is less in the summer time. It takes about 2 hours to get the plant back running once we have to shut it down. So we have 4 to 6-hour window of a problem and then we start running into issues with being able to supply water to the people. This is just not acceptable for a city this size and we have been spending 10s of millions of dollars on water reservoirs but its really hard to keep up with. In the winter time, the demand is such that we shut reservoirs off because there is not enough water and it would freeze in the tanks. So we have even less water stored in the winter. In the City of Billings because we all are trying to make a desert green as you know. We run about 18 to 19 million gallons a day in the winter time but over 60 million gallons of the day during the summer. So we have this huge summertime demand. What we are looking at is building reservoirs out of the gravel pits. That way we would receive water from the bbwa canal. We have talked to the BBWA and they are open to the concept, but it is not finalized yet. The canal runs right next to the gravel pits so we could take our water rights and a portion of it and use the canal to convey it. Then fill the reservoirs on a year-round basis using the canal as a way of getting it there. Then we don't have to put the water in pipes or pumps.. It would naturally feed it. After that, we would put a second water treatment plant on the westend that would have about 20 million gallons a day which we could supply the entire city off the second plant. In the summertime, it would help reduce the demands. One the other things that are happening as a community is the water plant that is currently where it's starting to max out on days where we are at a point it cannot produce more water. We have to upgrade that plant or build a new one. It's cheaper to build a new one rather than to upgrade pipes etc on the existing plant. We have to make sure we have water as it's a scarce commodity. we are fortunate to have the Yellowstone River, but its vulnerable to an oil spill, low water, or any number of things. What we presented to City Council a week ago is the concept of the reservoirs and knife river is open to the idea. The state, department of natural resources also likes the idea. The council told us to keep moving forward. So in the next years capital improvement plan, we will start with the purchase and design phase. Somewhat ambitious but we would like to have everything built within the next 5 or 6 years. The lake would provide a great amenity to Billings and will be 4 times the size of Lake Elmo. It would have trails, areas for folks to picnic or swim or fish as long as it's not a motorboat you could be on it and in it. It would make great recreational area right in town. This would provide long-term water to the city of Billings for hundred years. JBN: So would it not only solve the water issue but also become a kind of entertainment center in the west part of the city? David Mumford P.E.: The Shiloh conservation area is in the same area and is a stormwater detention area which means it cleans the stormwater by going through all the man-made wetlands. I was surprised at what an attraction it is to people they seem to love walking around. It has turned into an amenity park. It was supposed to be engineers building stormwater dentention but we ended up building something that people really enjoy. Adding the lakes really adds to that. It has a lot of positive aspects considering it will cost 50 million to build but costs 80 million to upgrade the existing plant so its cheaper. It has a lot of benefit to it. We are hoping also out of it that we can put piping in such that new subdivisions that are build out there can irrigate from untreated water so we don't spend all the money on to that water to throw it on the ground. So it would be more cost- effective and environmentally better and chlorinated water isn't good for the system being in the environment. It would be good to have naturally filtered water to water lawns. JBN: Do you have also some other project? David Mumford P.E.: We have many projects. This is just one project that we have going. Right now we currently rebuilding the waste-water treatment plant. This a 73 million dollar project to upgrade and meet new state and federal standards for waste- water discharge. Its the first phase but we are looking at what we can do to minimize the next ones. Most of the upgrade will be to treat phospherous and nitrogen which when it enters the river creates algae growth which can be detrimental. But we want to be sure the river is safe. Public works takes very seriously we have so much we are doing is that we take care of the environment. We make sure the river and the community are well taken care of and we are not doing anything detrimental to the river or wildlife. We would like to make sure we do all we can to do a good job that way. The staff takes that very seriously and really wants to do that. JBN: Residents of the city still remember the snowstorm at the end of the year. All the streets were plowed of snow pretty quick. Your department did really great job. Tell please about the routine of plowing the streets from snow in that winter. David Mumford P.E.: I t takes a long time to do it and just normal plowing like that last storm just the arterial streets to plow and haul it they worked 24 hours a day for 9 days. Just to get through the main roads just to plow it and haul it away and such. We really had staff working 24 hours a day for 9 days to do that. it's a big job. The staff very good and worked 12-hour shifts to make sure all plowing, hauling, and sanding was completed. The supervisors are great because they have to be there all the time. It's a really good group all of the public works. The garbage collection guys do a great job picking up ant a take care of it. That as another project. We are in the design of a transfer type center at the landfill. The new transfer station will be an area where citizens can dump their garbage inside a building,which will help with all the blowing of trash that can occur with high winds. This will also help with improving safety so that people will not be driving around landfill vehicles. We have heavy equipment burying and compacting trash. The trash will be sorted, taken to a specific area, and compacted. This will lengthen the life out of the landfill. Right now the landfill has about 40 to 50 years. We have an additional section that we are permitting for future so we have over 100 years of landfill left. This may not seem like a jewel but communities struggle with having a landfill. Communities go to recycling because they have no place to put their trash. We recognize what we do well and what we don't do well. Unfortunately recycling is expensive. There is so much hand sorting and following commodity markets, Public Works would rather support the companies here in town that do recycling and help them when we can. To support them, we do yard waste recycling, we have the ability to handle fuel, oils, electronics, and take these item to places who handle such waste. Hazardous waste we take and ship it out as part of the collection costs. Last year we handled over 350,000 tons of trash. JBN: What kind of difficulties your department is facing with garbage collection service here in Billings? David Mumford P.E.: Billings is windy. Our biggest problem is the small light plastic bags.. If you don't bag them when we dump them the wind takes them and they blow away and they are everywhere. The other thing we are hoping long-term with the building is to work with some of the organization in the town like habitat for humanity and rehab store people have lots of lumber, sheetrock, or cabinets for example that are still good. We would like to be able to separate those out and have those used by the public or organizations to build homes. Not to be buried but actually used that to try to benefit the community in a reuse mode. We are exploring whether or not we can give home builders a discount on dumping fees if they will separate some of the good stuff out that can be reused. If I don't have to bury it then I should be able to charge them somewhat less for doing that. JBN: Your department does so much work! I guess that many people even don't imagine how many different things running in the city thanks to Public Work Department. David Mumford P.E.: People just wanna know that their garbage their wastewater something happens to it and they hope its good. And we try really hard to do that. They wanna know when they turn on their water tap there is always water coming out. The streets are taken care of the storm drains are taken care of. We build things correctly. One of the things for the last 158 to 16years we try to change. The roads are not just for cars. there are trails, landscaping to make them more. When you drive down Zimmerman trail or drive down 24th the environment differs on how you feel on the road is because of the trail the landscaping. It's not so. If you have a hard surface it makes you tenser. We are trying to make sure the roads are good for people who want to ride bicycles, walk take transit. one of the things we are working on and I think would. It's tough when it snows. Hand shoveling the ADA ramps at intersections. We are selling all of those out recognizing that they are a part of our community that needs to get around that struggles. Especially in the winter time environment, we are trying to figure out ways to do that better. So everybody gets around. The community has changed a lot for that better. We are recognizing that people get around in all kinds of ways, not just in a car. The first real trails were only 14 years ago so a lot has happened in a short period of time. There is a recognition that especially by the City Council the past and current that if you want professional or younger people to come tot he community you have to private them with something to do after work and something to do on weekends. That is where the trails start to come in. In places for people to go. One of the nice things that Billings is recognized and moving towards. There a lot of positive groups trail net works with the city staff. Riverstone Health lots of good organizations that work with us to make it a better place. That is one thing nice there is not only just inside the city organizations but outside organizations that work with us and folks that are really interested in the community. Shilo conservation area we had Yellowstone River Park association donated benches. Wild birds unlimited put up bird's houses out there to better attract. Lots of small business and such has helped us with planting trees benches etc. JBN: If we come back to topic about plowing streets. How many inches of snow should we get that you would start to plowing? David Mumford P.E.: The main road's arterials we start plowing if we think we will get 3 inches. On small residential local streets where this is the first year we have plowed. We are saying that from talking to the council and costs it has to be over 3 inches between 3.5 to 4 then we will plow like we did this last time.. for the first time plowing especially for the private companies they did a very good job on the streets. We anticipated 6 days it took 7.5 but it was their first time and we got almost 15 inches of snow which is a lot to move at once. Once we plowed it we had slippery street because of the ice underneath. We are struggling with places to put the snow. That was a lot of snow to move. Moving snow around trying to figure out where to store it. JBN: Is there some kind of schedule for plowing residential streets? David Mumford P.E.: Residential we have 6 areas the city broke out for sweeping so we use that with the contractor to move through. We started on the south side this last time moved to the north, the heights and then downtown. The next time we will reverse that order. We keep rotating it so that nobody s always last. And then the arterials the main road our goal is to in about 36 to 48 hours and we can plow everything to the point where it's all driveable. That is our first goal to plow everything and then we start picking up the snow that's plowed to center and at that point if we can we try to make sure the trails are cleared. Parks and rec helped us with this last storm. We hopefully within 24 to 36 hours the trails are plowed after the storm ends. Try to get everything going. there are 37 people in streets split into 2 12 hours shifts there are not a lot of people working with all the equipment and such. We did hire more to do residential talking to the council by the time you bought all the equipment and hire the people and if you have winter with not much snow so we contracted out. There are a lot of construction companies with great operators with equipment sitting all winter. It's more effective than to hire any people. Use the private sector when they have great talent to help us. Keep people working. JBN: Last question about the constructions what we have on the streets every summer. Last year it was on the 6th noth street. What kind of works you did in that area and what projects do you have for summer 2018? David Mumford P.E.: We had water and sewer mains that were old that we had to replace so the work there at the division. For us was difficult it was congestive little area to get through. They were big pipes that were deep. They are done. That's all done. We will go confuse people somewhere else this summer. Every year we do about 7 to 8 million dollars worth of water and sewer replacement to try to keep up with the system. We are engineering where project will be next year.
Johnson’s Billings News
Interview
Hosted by Johnson Computing
They are read.  We are Quoted!!!
David Mumford P.E., man who has his finger on the pulse of the City
Photo by Billings Gazette