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For the week of January 3 through January 9, 2001

Water district may expand

Express Staff Writer

Hailey water and wastewater superintendent Ray Hyde pointed to a spot on a map spread out in front of him.

"This is a wellhead. It’s the actual hole in the ground where water is pumped."

Then he pointed out three concentric areas marked around the well.

"These are the three wellhead protection zones. If a pollutant were poured on the surface of zone one, it would take three years for it to sink in and travel to the wellhead. It takes six years for a pollutant to reach the wellhead from zone two and 10 years from zone three."

The water drawn from the ground goes right to people’s spigots without being treated. Hyde said the city chlorinates its water, but that is not considered treatment. Under Idaho Department of Environmental Quality regulations, treatment means filtration.

Were Hailey’s wells ever polluted, he said, the city would have to consider adding expensive filters to its system. He said city staff test Hailey’s water six times a week. If a well were polluted, Hyde said, the first step in dealing with the problem would be to disconnect the well from the city system.

Hyde’s job is to protect the purity of the wells. That protection, he said, is the "driving force" behind plans to provide water and sewer to residences outside the city.

Another look at the map shows why the purity of the groundwater might one day be in question.

North of Hailey, residences on county land have their own wells, and each one is an opening for pollutants.

And each residence uses a septic system.

Hyde said that if a septic system is operating properly, there is no danger to the groundwater. But, he said, sometimes owners forget to inspect their septic systems, and then they can become a contamination source.

With recent discussions occurring about Hailey’s future growth by 2020 and area of city impact, the city council decided one way to protect its water is to offer its water and sewer services outside its limits.

Hyde said his department has already received requests from property owners outside the city for those services, but Hailey currently does not have a policy to handle them.

"There’s no ordinance prohibiting providing these city services outside the city," he said, "and there is no ordinance stipulating them."

This fall the council asked Hyde to work with city planner Kathy Grotto and the city P&Z to write an ordinance to stipulate what the city would require of property owners outside the city who wished to connect to city water and water-treatment services.

The key to the new ordinance is the formation of water and sewer districts by property owners outside Hailey city limits who want water and sewer services. Idaho law permits the establishment of water and sewer districts within or outside city limits.

Hyde said that if property owners were to form themselves into a water and sewer district and connect to Hailey, the district would have to pay the connection and infrastructure costs the new users added to the system. After that, he said, the new users would pay a monthly rate equal to that paid by city residents.

The best way to form a water and sewer district outside of Hailey, he said, would be at the start of subdivision creation.

Another way property owners may hook up to the city’s systems is through annexation.

Hyde said if the annexed property line were within 300 feet of a service main, the owner would have to hook up to city water and sewer systems unless the owner had a properly working water and septic system.

If, after annexation, a property owner did not want to hook up to city water and sewer, Hyde’s department would test the owner’s water and septic systems to insure it posed no danger of contaminating groundwater. If the systems were safe, then the owner could apply for a variance of up to 10 years before having to hook up to the city.


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