By Cameron Rasmusson
The Sandpoint wastewater treatment plant will remain at its existing location following a City Council decision Wednesday.
Seeking to implement upgrades — and the resultant utility fee increases — gradually over several years, council members voted to phase wastewater treatement plant improvements over a period of seven to 10 years at its current South Sandpoint location.
Under the plan selected by council members, the original site, located near Memorial Field, will be outfitted with “bridge improvements” replacing vital components over the next five years to prevent malfunction. Within seven to 10 years, additional technology installations will improve water quality and increase capacity. The project is estimated to cost between $71 and $83 million, according to city documentation.
With the city wastewater treatment plant nearing the end of its useful lifespan, officials faced a decision: keep the site where it is or move it to a new location — likely city-owned property off Baldy Mountain Road. However, the cost of moving the facility ultimately persuaded officials and committee appointees to maintain the existing location. Moving the site would have cost between $105 and $120 million over 10 years of phasing, which would have required technology improvements at the existing site to maintain it in good working order.
Alternatively, the city could have opted to upgrade the existing site at a much quicker rate of five years. At an estimated cost of $70 to $80 million, the option was somewhat cheaper, but the shorter time frame to implement improvements would have resulted in sharper rate spikes for utility users.
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