The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality recently approved a design for an innovative “constructed wetlands” wastewater treatment system for the Quigley Farm development in Hailey, the first such system to be built in Idaho.
The design approval allows the development team to move forward with construction of the system.
“We’re shooting for just after Labor Day to break ground,” said Quigley Farm developer David Hennessy.
The first phase of the project consists of 51 residential units spread across 36 lots at the mouth of the canyon, plus business areas and nonprofit spaces. The full buildout of Quigley Farm includes the eventual construction of 176 housing units, a school, offices and a convenience store.
An annexation agreement with the city of Hailey requires all infrastructure, including roads, to be complete before lots are sold at Quigley Farm.
The wetlands system is designed to use natural processes to treat and recycle wastewater; a pressurized system will send effluent from decentralized septic tanks at individual housing units to gardens planted over gravel on top of an impermeable layer. Bacteria in the garden will treat the sewage 3 to 6 feet below the surface. Further filtration and ultraviolet disinfection technology will complete the treatment process.
The city of Hailey has agreed to accept some wastewater from Quigley Farm and required the development to hook up to the city’s conventional sewer system, but Quigley Farm’s wetlands treatment facility will be required to meet all wastewater treatment needs of the proposed development, said Jerimiah Fenton, reuse coordinator for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
“There are similar facilities in other states, but to my knowledge, this is the first facility like this in Idaho,” Fenton said.
Hennessy said the wetlands system will be owned and operated by Puttman Infrastructure, a firm that owns and operates private utility systems throughout the Northwest.
“The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has very strict testing requirements with which we will comply,” Hennessy said. He said those include testing and monitoring requirements that range from daily to weekly, monthly and annually.
Though the design for the system has been approved, Fenton is still at work reviewing a permit application that would allow the development to reuse its treated wastewater.
“They can build the system now, but the permit for reuse is still a ways off,” he said.
Fenton said Quigley Farm has proposed to use “Class A” or top-quality recycled water for landscape irrigation, agricultural irrigation,
toilet flushing in com-mercial or industrial facilities and seasonal snowmaking for cross-country ski trails.
Hennessy said Quigley Farm will have a connection to the city wastewater treatment system for discharge in the winter when treated and recycled water cannot be reused on the site.
“The effluent will be stored on site and discharged into the city system at off-peak hours so that it does not impact their system,” he said.
Fenton said that when the reuse permit for Quigley Farm is approved, DEQ will issue a press release that opens a public comment period on the permit.
“Anyone can comment on the draft permit posted to the DEQ website, by email or by letter,” he said.