In keeping with our commitment to customers, we will be expanding and modernizing our wastewater treatment facility. This project will ensure our compliance with tougher state and federal standards and to better meet future capacity demands on our wastewater facility.
Star needs to upgrade our wastewater treatment facility to meet the terms of permits issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. The District has no choice but to upgrade, in order to continue operations and maintain our high-quality standards.
Communities across Idaho are being required to take steps to reduce the level of phosphorus and ammonia in the treated wastewater discharged into canals and waterways, and Star is no exception.
As designed, the project calls for repurposing of the existing lagoon system because it can no longer meet the stricter limits of the permit. In its place, our blueprint involves upgrades to facilities/infrastructure and modernization of the headworks and other facilities.
We’re also drilling a new water well for domestic uses and building a storage reservoir to better handle the future clean water demands of our community.
Our community is growing, and that means more service connections, greater demand for our clean water and higher volumes at our treatment facility. Anticipating these impacts, we have been proactive in managing our resources and making growth pay for itself.
We take seriously our responsibility to provide clean drinking water, to protect public health and our natural resources. We all have a role to play in protecting our quality of life and preparing for Star’s future.
We have a long history of operating within our financial means and we take pride in keeping the rates our customers pay for clean water and sewer service affordable. Conservative management and making responsible investments will continue guiding us as we approach this project.
However, we cannot ignore the work ahead and the costs associated with meeting new regulatory benchmarks.
To pay for the project, the District must secure an estimated $29 million. Our financial plan involves a mix of revenue sources, including our reserve account, anticipated future revenue and a loan with favorable terms from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. We have also been approved for a $1 million grant from the state.
What does this mean for our customers? It’s difficult to predict right now. The Star Sewer & Water District board has approved a small increase in water and sewer rates beginning December 2018 to generate additional revenue. Any future decision about rates will include consideration of growth in our community, keeping monthly bills predictable and affordable, and input from our customers.
We plan to begin construction in 2019 so the new wastewater treatment facility is operational and in compliance with new rules by 2022.
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