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Yellowstone receives $14.7 million in stimulus funds for infrastructure improvements

The projects will focus mainly on infrastructure needs, though Park officials say money will also be used to improve experiences for park visitors, and implement sustainable green technologies, while generating economic activity in the region.

The largest of the Yellowstone projects is construction of a new wastewater treatment plant at Madison Junction.  Planning and environmental compliance for the $9 million project was completed in early 2006.  It will replace an aging plant built 50 years ago which struggles to handle summer wastewater flows and was never designed to operate during winter months.

The more intriguing project, and one that will probably generate more headlines, is the installation of a new micro hydro electrical-generation facility in the Mammoth Hot Springs area.

It’s a new twist on an old idea. Nearly a century ago when the U.S. Army was still running Yellowstone, a Pelton water wheel was installed to generate electricity for Mammoth Hot Springs.  While that original unit was taken out of service long ago, the park plans to use $1.65 million in stimulus spending to install a new micro hydro system to harness power from drinking water already stored for use. Using this clean power source will reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions by 695 tons and save the park approximately $80,000 in electric bills.

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