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Engineers begin work of securing hillside below Billings ditch

Engineers begin work of securing hillside below Billings ditch

Specialized geotechnical engineers hired by the city to stabilize a hillside above a north Billings neighborhood have been working this week using a process that involves adhering the unstable material in the slope to "viable material" that's more stable. 

City crews will also remove portions of the hillside to reduce weight from the slope and alleviate some of the force that pushes down on the base of the hill, which has created some of the instability issues.

The issue arose last week when the city discovered small cracks in the hillside; the area below the Billings Bench Water Association ditch is city parkland. Engineers spent last week on the hillside investigating the small cracks and testing the stability of the slope.

On Saturday, the BBWA emptied the ditch to inspect the specialized lining it uses to prevent seepage and found a few garden hose-sized holes, something officials expected. Hikers and others recreating along the ditch who throw items into the water can damage the lining.

Earlier this week, the BBWA turned the water back on and refilled the ditch, which carries irrigation water to residential customers in Billings as well as farmers and ranchers in eastern Yellowstone County.

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