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Two of the Ketchum-Sun Valley wastewater plant’s aeration basins—where microorganisms are mixed with sewage as part of the treatment process—front, are 54 years old and, according to experts, are near the end of their lifespan.

For most people, what happens to the wastewater their household produces is out of sight and out of mind. But, for Ketchum Wastewater Division Supervisor Mick Mummert, making sure the city’s wastewater treatment plant turns about a million gallons of sewage a day into clean water is an everyday affair.

Mummert and Ketchum City Administrator Jade Riley gave a tour Wednesday of the plant south of town along the Big Wood River, which Ketchum operates jointly with the Sun Valley Water and Sewer District. The tour was part of an educational campaign the city is conducting in advance of the Nov. 8 elections, in which Ketchum voters will be asked to approve a revenue-bond issue of up $14 million to help fund major improvements to the facility.

Riley said the planned upgrades to the plant are not designed solely to accommodate growth, though capacity would be increased from the current 4 million gallons per day. The projects would make the facility more energy-efficient and more environmentally friendly, and would allow the operators to keep discharge standards above those set by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

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Ketchum City Administrator Jade Riley looks over a set of high-powered turbines that blow air into sewage basins as part of the treatment process at the city’s wastewater plant.

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