Friday, February 10, 2006

Ketchum seeks bids for water system project

Voters approved $2.8 million bond Tuesday

Express Staff Writer

A water pipe on Edelweiss Avenue in Ketchum, part of the old Ketchum Spring Water System, springs a leak last summer. City officials say the old system, which the city bought 19 years ago, is in constant need of repair. Voters approved a $2.8 million bond on Tuesday to replace the system's pipes and water mains. Ketchum Utilities Department photo

Voters in Ketchum's water bond election Tuesday sent a clear message to the city: It is broke, so fix it.

Now, the city is looking for bids for water main and pipe replacement in Ketchum's Quadrant 1, in the southeast part of downtown.

City officials hope work can begin by April 1.

Ninety percent of voters were in favor of the $2.8 million bond to repair 20 miles of aging, leaky pipes serving 300 customers in the downtown core.

Only 6 percent of Ketchum's 2,180 registered voters went to the polls Tuesday. Of the ballots cast, 121 residents voted in favor of the special revenue bond request and 13 residents voted against it.

"We were happy that, although there was a small turnout ... we did get a large percentage in favor of it," said Steve Hansen, city of Ketchum utilities manager.

Once a bid is accepted by the City Council, perhaps by March, workers can start digging in, Hansen said.

The city has already secured Idaho Department of Environmental Quality permits and design approval, he added.

"Hopefully, we'll get some good bids," Hansen said. "It's a tough project, working downtown, digging trenches."

Work in Quadrant 1 is scheduled for completion by Memorial Day.

"That's the best-case scenario," Hansen said, "before the town gets busy ... they'll be out of there before most tourists come to town."

Quadrants 2, 3 and 4 will be completed in subsequent years, with new bid processes each year.

The city bought the old Ketchum Spring Water System 19 years ago.

"We're just pleased we can finally get this project going," Hansen said.

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