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Is a Water and Sewer Regional District in Garden Valley’s Future?

Wastewater Facility Master Plan schedule.

Garden Valley -An informational public meeting hosted by 2 Fork Water and Sewer was held on June 1, 2017 in Crouch to discuss the project planning and costs for creating a Water and Sewer District throughout the Garden Valley area. Tim Farrell of Mountain Waterworks is Project Manager and Engineer.  He was hired by local Garden Valley resident Don Weilmunster to look into a feasible plan for the area with associated engineering and costs.

Mountain Waterworks job is to build a project, get funding and make a project affordable at $600 -800/year of sewer service.  Grant funding is a huge part of the plan to get low rates. Now it is time for the public to get serious about developing a regional wastewater district or not.  A petition to the 2 Forks Recreational Water and Sewer District can be made individually or through HOA groups.  This can be a letter or a simple petition form.

Wastewater Facility Master Plan schedule.

After review of how many people are for or against will help to decide if this project keeps the momentum it has with grants and permitting.  A 20 year plan document, required for funding, will at least be in place if there is reason for people to shelve the project. Project cost will go up in the meantime however. The draft facility plan has been approved by DEQ and public comment is needed in order to qualify for federal funding.

The project relies on the fact that Mr. Weilmunster has a state-of-the-art Sewer Plant located at Southfork Landing that can be set up and used to capacity with potential expansion. The sewer plant was designed to support Southfork Landing subdivision. The 2008 economic downturn brought the subdivision project to a halt. Since that time, the efforts to resurrect Southfork Landing have been slow to progress.

Aging systems in the City of Crouch and Terrace Lakes and all over Garden Valley needed to be thinking of an alternative plan. Payette River water quality is looked at as the health of the river is downgrading. Economic development cannot move forward with failing systems and that can affect home values.

Don Weilmunster has great interest is to see that Garden Valley, in the form of a Recreational Water and Sewer District, can develop proper usage of the wastewater plant. The ownership and management of the wastewater facility would belong to the District with five elected board of director members. The District would then deal with all future expansions to the facility.

The treatment plant plan would be similar to Avimore subdivision northwest of Boise on Hwy 55. Farrell explained that the sewer planning area would cover Garden Valley, Crouch, Terrace Lakes and Southfork Landing.  Current plant capacity is for about 300 homes, but can be expanded to serve two to three thousand hook-ups serving the entire area. Weilmunster is donating the first 500 hook-ups on a first come first served basis. Nine hundred hook-ups would mean the plant would need to expand and add components for storage, pumps, treatment and aeration, mixers and solids handling.

A project cost summary.

The collective system alternatives vary in costs depending how far the hookups will entail.  Project costs and layout of all three plan ideas were presented. Rural grants make this much more affordable and possible. Funding infrastructure can come from different entities:  US Army Corp of engineers, USDA – rural development, IDEQ- State Revolving Loan Fund, and ID Department of Commerce that has block grants, or FEMA – Boise County Hazard Mitigation Plan.

“A sewer district model benefits rural communities, “Farrell said and explained how the Payette Lake system as a model system.  In 1969 the Clean Water Act had adopted extensive testing. They set up as a water and sewer district in 1971 by special election of voters. Now they have clean water by having a district with much better monitoring of the sewer system.

Costs for levy rates in similar sewer districts.

Those in attendance to the public information meeting mostly were negative to the idea of a regional wastewater treatment plan. Attendees expressed fear that their sewer bill would escalate if there is a district. Some don’t want to pay for sewer since their septic is basically free. Farrell explained that no one would be forced to hook up. Others were concerned for the changes to the small town atmosphere with continued growth.  Still others were concerned of where this all started and would say “follow the money”.  Farrell explained that over time the valley could lose access to the treatment plant if there became a different owner.

When asked about water quality, Farrell explained, “The Middlefork of the Payette has phosphates but the Southfork may still be fairly clean. Many septics along the Middlefork are old and failing. They are feeding into the groundwater and then go into the Middlefork.  Nobody is monitoring these unregulated septics.  There are 2000 septics in the same condition in the area.”

Tim Fritzley, developer of The Edge Resort, explained that through his processes required for his development, he speaks with IDEQ on a regular basis. He explained, “DEQ is watching all the phosphorous in the rivers. The can potentially come after Garden Valley when the levels get too high, which then there will forced monitoring. Costs will rise. Phosphorous has to go through a treatment facility to be removed not through modern septics.”

Many attendees have concerns that Weilmunster would have all the district votes because of his property at Southfork Landing.  Farrell revealed to the audience that “at this time Weilmunster is paying out of his own pocket to keep the facility available for Terrace Lakes. His idea to utilize the facility is part of the legacy he wants to keep for the area.” Other concerns mentioned were about possible seismic activity, especially when pipes could go through the Southfork area and under the river. Farrell stated “There are safety controls are in place for that.”

Ultimately the community will need to decide and how and what type of project they desire. Some in attendance to the public information meeting were opposed to the idea of a regional wastewater district plan.  Everyone can have a voice. Make comments or petitions soon by contacting   2ForksRecWSD@gmail.com or email kgillespie@mountainwtr.com  Follow activities on Facebook at the 2 Forks Recreational Water and Sewer District page.

Written by Janet Juroch – BCC Staff