NAMPA — After getting voter approval for a $165 million wastewater bond, Nampa city leadership has started talks with regulators on ways to keep upgrade costs down.
Nampa officials met with the region’s Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Chris Hladick Wednesday and several other EPA and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality officials to discuss potential options to save on the city’s federally mandated wastewater upgrades.
The meeting, which included Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling, several City Council members and city staff, was set up to discuss Nampa’s next steps after passing a $165 million revenue bond on May 15. Hladick said he will work with his staff and communicate with Nampa officials to reach a solution.
In recent years, the EPA has raised its standards for wastewater quality, including enforcing a stricter limit on the amount of phosphorus in discharged water. The new standards, an effort to keep waterways clean and protect wildlife, mean Nampa must spend millions of dollars to upgrade its treatment plant.
Nampa must comply with the new standards or else it faces steep fines of up to $100,000 a day for every limit it does not meet. The city could file a suit against the EPA to avoid paying for the upgrades, but Public Works Director Michael Fuss said it is highly unlikely that the city would win that legal battle, and then the city would be forced to pay the same amount for the upgrades, plus fines and attorney fees.
Fuss said the city’s main focus after passing the revenue bond is to secure a reuse permit, which could save Nampa up to $20 million. The reuse system would still discharge treated wastewater into Indian Creek during the winter like it normally does, but during the summer it would be diverted for industrial reuse and discharged into irrigation canals.
With the reuse system, Fuss said the city would not have to worry about meeting federally mandated temperature limits, which Hladick said is an issue for several areas outside Nampa. Fuss also said reusing treated wastewater would involve a more lenient phosphorus limit.
Fuss said the city hopes to have its reuse permit within the next year. If secured, the reuse system would be implemented during Nampa’s third phase of wastewater upgrades, which is scheduled from 2023 to 2030. This would be one of the largest reuse systems in Idaho, he said.
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