Friday, February 20, 2009

The flow chart

Sewage an indicator of local economy?


By JON DUVAL
Express Staff Writer


This chart graphs the monthly sewage flows for Ketchum and Sun Valley in 2008 against Ketchum’s local option tax receipts. Express graphics by Jon Duval & Coly McCauley McCauley

This graph shows the average sewer flows for Ketchum and Sun Valley during peak ski season (December through March) since 1998, as well as Ketchum’s average local-option tax receipts for the same time period. Express graphics by Jon Duval & Coly

It's been a staple belief that the more people visiting Ketchum and Sun Valley, the healthier the economy.

It's also reasonable to think that as the number of tourists increases, so does the demand on the cities' water and sewage-treatment facilities.

Data provided by the Sun Valley Water & Sewer District for its wastewater treatment plant, located just south of Ketchum on the west side of state Highway 75 near the Elkhorn stoplight, show a downward trend. The plant treats all wastewater from both towns.

Over the past decade, the monthly average sewage flow per year has decreased by about 12 million gallons. The average flow in 2008, 43.7 million gallons, was the third lowest, after 2007 and 2001.

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Monthly flows in 2008 correlated closely with local-option tax receipts, increasing during peak summer and winter seasons and dropping sharply during slack.

Ketchum's local-option tax revenue comes from a 2 percent sales tax on lodging and by-the-glass liquor sales, and a 1 percent tax on retail sales and building materials, with the goal of offsetting the impacts of tourism on city services and infrastructure.

Jon Duval: jduval@mtexpress.com




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