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Friday — February 6, 2004


Sewer bonds
pass with ease

Ketchum, Sun Valley
endorse $7.4 million project

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum and Sun Valley voters overwhelmingly approved a plan Tuesday to conduct a $7.4 million upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant that serves both cities.

In two special bond elections held in the neighboring cities, voters issued permission to the city of Ketchum and the Sun Valley Water and Sewer District to each incur approximately $3.7 million in debt to ensure their jointly owned facility meets tightening environmental regulations.

In Ketchum, voters approved the plan by a 213-11 margin. The city has 1,913 registered voters, only 12 percent of whom participated in the election.

In Sun Valley, 183 voters endorsed the plan, while a mere 14 opposed it. Twenty-four percent of Sun Valley’s 810 registered voters cast ballots in the election.

Because the two entities were proposing different types of bonds, the Ketchum proposal required approval from a simple majority of voters, while the Sun Valley plan required approval from two-thirds of that city’s voters.

Ron LeBlanc, Ketchum city administrator, said the results were well received at Ketchum City Hall.

"I’m very pleased with the overwhelming community support," LeBlanc said.

Jack Brown, general manager of the Sun Valley Water and Sewer District, said the results of the two elections ensure that the proposed $7.44 million project will be pursued.

"I would say that we’re underway," Brown said. "We will see construction this summer."

The two bond proposals specifically asked voters if they support a plan for each of the two entities to issue and sell $3,720,000 worth of bonds to cover the costs of the project.

The wastewater plant that serves the two cities is located south of Ketchum, adjacent to the Big Wood River.

Analysts determined that by 2006 the existing facility would not meet state and federal standards established to control the purity of treated water released into the Big Wood River. Violations of those standards could result in fines of up to $10,000 per day being issued to the owners, officials said.

The plant upgrades include a new disinfection system that uses ultraviolet light to destroy bacteria and other single-cell organisms. It will replace an existing system that uses chlorine to disinfect treated wastewater.

The project also calls for a new filtration system, new aeration basins and a new $1.3 million electrical and control system.

The upgraded wastewater plant is being designed to meet the two cities’ needs for at least the next 20 years.

LeBlanc said the upgrade to the electrical and control systems will likely be started by June. Other aspects of the project will be completed in stages conducted through 2006.

The city administrator said Ketchum will pursue a low-interest construction loan from the state or the private sector before planning to issue any bonds.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.