Water district may expand
By PETER BOLTZ
Express Staff Writer
Hailey water and wastewater superintendent
Ray Hyde pointed to a spot on a map spread out in front of him.
"This is a wellhead. It’s the actual
hole in the ground where water is pumped."
Then he pointed out three concentric areas
marked around the well.
"These are the three wellhead
protection zones. If a pollutant were poured on the surface of zone one,
it would take three years for it to sink in and travel to the wellhead. It
takes six years for a pollutant to reach the wellhead from zone two and 10
years from zone three."
The water drawn from the ground goes right
to people’s spigots without being treated. Hyde said the city
chlorinates its water, but that is not considered treatment. Under Idaho
Department of Environmental Quality regulations, treatment means
Were Hailey’s wells ever polluted, he
said, the city would have to consider adding expensive filters to its
system. He said city staff test Hailey’s water six times a week. If a
well were polluted, Hyde said, the first step in dealing with the problem
would be to disconnect the well from the city system.
Hyde’s job is to protect the purity of
the wells. That protection, he said, is the "driving force"
behind plans to provide water and sewer to residences outside the city.
Another look at the map shows why the
purity of the groundwater might one day be in question.
North of Hailey, residences on county land
have their own wells, and each one is an opening for pollutants.
And each residence uses a septic system.
Hyde said that if a septic system is
operating properly, there is no danger to the groundwater. But, he said,
sometimes owners forget to inspect their septic systems, and then they can
become a contamination source.
With recent discussions occurring about
Hailey’s future growth by 2020 and area of city impact, the city council
decided one way to protect its water is to offer its water and sewer
services outside its limits.
Hyde said his department has already
received requests from property owners outside the city for those
services, but Hailey currently does not have a policy to handle them.
"There’s no ordinance prohibiting
providing these city services outside the city," he said, "and
there is no ordinance stipulating them."
This fall the council asked Hyde to work
with city planner Kathy Grotto and the city P&Z to write an ordinance
to stipulate what the city would require of property owners outside the
city who wished to connect to city water and water-treatment services.
The key to the new ordinance is the
formation of water and sewer districts by property owners outside Hailey
city limits who want water and sewer services. Idaho law permits the
establishment of water and sewer districts within or outside city limits.
Hyde said that if property owners were to
form themselves into a water and sewer district and connect to Hailey, the
district would have to pay the connection and infrastructure costs the new
users added to the system. After that, he said, the new users would pay a
monthly rate equal to that paid by city residents.
The best way to form a water and sewer
district outside of Hailey, he said, would be at the start of subdivision
Another way property owners may hook up to
the city’s systems is through annexation.
Hyde said if the annexed property line were
within 300 feet of a service main, the owner would have to hook up to city
water and sewer systems unless the owner had a properly working water and
If, after annexation, a property owner did
not want to hook up to city water and sewer, Hyde’s department would
test the owner’s water and septic systems to insure it posed no danger
of contaminating groundwater. If the systems were safe, then the owner
could apply for a variance of up to 10 years before having to hook up to