Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hailey might need $2M sewer bond

Council addresses need for upgrade

Express Staff Writer

This 37-year-old fiberglass dome could soon be demolished and replaced with a more energy-efficient building at the Hailey wastewater treatment facility. Photo by Willy Cook

Hailey’s dilapidated wastewater treatment facility in Woodside subdivision is sorely in need of an upgrade, and Hailey residents will likely have to pay for it. 

The City Council will review a study in coming weeks that is expected to call for a sewer bond tax increase of up to $2 million to cover the cost of a new building as well as new processes at the facility.

“This is probably the highest-priority thing we have going on right now,” said Mayor Fritz Haemmerle at a council meeting Monday, Aug. 27. 

During the meeting, Hailey Wastewater Superintendent Roger Parker presented photographs of rusted walls, doors and fittings within a dome-shaped facility that houses the “dewatering” portion of the city’s wastewater facility.

Parker said increased restrictions on phosphate discharges from the facility into the Big Wood River, expected to be in place by 2017, pose a related challenge to the city. Increased phosphate restrictions would require increased efficiency of treatment practices at the facility.

Preliminary facility upgrade plans presented to the council last week would do away with the existing dome, as well as the need for twice-weekly transfers of 12,000 gallons per week of reduced sewer sludge to the Ohio Gulch landfill.

Parker said the upgrade costs would be offset somewhat by a reduction in annual heating expenses and elimination of sludge hauling costs.

Public Works Director Tom Hellen said the average $36-per-month sewer bill for Hailey residents could rise due to the cost of the facility upgrade. 

Hellen said national standards for sewer rates are 1 to 2 percent of area monthly incomes. He said that using that formula, Hailey’s rates could rise to between $47.79 and $85.58, depending on amount of water use.

City Attorney Ned Williamson said in an interview that the wastewater facility upgrade study would be available for council review within two months.

“We intend to lay out all the options and have the council vote on them,” Williamson said.

Tony Evans:



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