Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Innovative wastewater plan proposed

Quigley developers offer Hailey municipal well site

Express Staff Writer

The owners of Quigley Canyon Ranch presented an innovative, de-centralized wastewater treatment plan to the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday, June 19, for a proposed 380-residence development in Quigley Canyon. If approved by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the city, the system would help maintain groundwater levels under the 1,109 acre development while providing irrigation for a proposed 18-hole golf course.

Noah Nemmers of V3 Companies in Denver, Colo. presented a design for aerobic treatment units, or ATUs, at Thursday's meeting. Rather than build a new sewer line from Quigley Canyon through downtown Hailey to the municipal wastewater treatment facility, Nemmer plans to submerge 200 ATUs throughout Quigley Canyon.

"We are currently working on this plan with city engineer Tom Hellen," said Nemmers. "This plan would complement the city's current system."

Nemmers' plan would treat wastewater on site with bacteria and blower fans within each of the ATUs. Under the proposed plan, the effluent would then be transferred by gravity-fed sewer lines to a 15x15 foot advanced treatment facility constructed in the canyon.

Following the second stage of treatment, Nemmers says the water could be used to irrigate the 18-hole golf course planned for the development, or returned to the ground in winter to recharge groundwater supplies.

"This is basically a municipal waste water treatment facility packaged into a small system," said Nemmers. "The Department of Environmental Quality in Idaho has not approved a system for re-use like this before."

Kieth Spiers of Alternative Wastewater Treatment in Boise is working with Nemmers and the developers of Quigley Canyon to bring the innovative system on line.

"We have about 900 of these systems running in Idaho right now, including four in Blaine County," said Spiers. "The re-use aspect (watering with treated effluent) has not been tried in this configuration in Idaho, but it is in use elsewhere, in Washington, Maine and Pennsylvania."

Hailey currently treats wastewater to high standards and returns it the hydrologic cycle through perforated pipes six feet under the Big Wood River.

"This is a good idea in terms of recycling water," said Hellen, "but there is a list of DEQ requirements that must be met before approval, including a well impact study, and backup plan."

The city of Bellevue currently re-uses treated wastewater from its lagoon-style treatment facility, dispersing the treated water on alfalfa fields in the south valley.

The developers of Quigley Canyon also offered the city a new municipal well site Thursday, which they said would provide sufficient pressure to keep the new water tank in Quigley Canyon topped off. Since the tank went into service last year, the city has been unable to keep it filled due to water use across the city during peak water usage periods.

"The developers would sink a well for the city as a condition of annexation," said Nemmers.

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