Water from Guyer Hot Springs—once used to heat the Bald Mountain Hot Springs Hotel swimming pool in downtown Ketchum—could once again provide a warm soak for pool or spa users.
On Monday, the Ketchum City Council approved an agreement with the hot springs’ owner to conduct a study to determine how much hot water is available at the site, along Warm Springs Creek just upstream from the Warm Springs base area, and what would be required to develop it as a public spa. The council authorized an expenditure of $5,000 for the study.
“This is still real preliminary,” Mayor Randy Hall said. However, he added, “It’s very exciting. The potential here is through the roof for marketing Ketchum with a spa.”
The water right and the property on which the hot springs flows are owned by the Cimino family, long-time Ketchum residents. Part of the water is being used to heat homes and driveways of about 20 customers in the Warm Springs area. However, much of it simply flows into the creek.
Under the agreement, Ketchum will have 30 days after completion of the study to determine whether it wants to conduct analysis for the establishment of a business. The city is required to make its “best efforts” to complete the plan within six months. After completion of the business plan, Ketchum will have 30 days to begin negotiations with Natural Energy Resources, a company owned by the Ciminos, to develop the resource.
The study will be conducted by Boise-based engineering firm ERO Resources Corp., which did a similar study of the hot springs in 2007, when the water was being considered for heating sidewalks and private pools in the area. In an interview, Hall said the findings of that study are “not quite what we need right now.”
Asked why the city is spending public money to study a privately owned resource, Hall said, “That’s how you get something done these days, through a private/public partnership. The Ciminos have graciously offered to work with the city to do something for the public.”
Hall said it is too soon to speculate on how that partnership would be structured, but said members of the public “will have a great opportunity to weigh in.”