The city of Ketchum has a series of new sustainability targets that would usher in major reductions to its water use, energy consumption and waste production.
The City Council approved the goals May 20, but they won’t mean much unless they’re followed with substantial action—and funding in upcoming city budgets.
They were recommended by the Ketchum Sustainability Advisory Committee, which hired consultant Sharon Patterson Grant of Open Spaces Northwest. The committee consists of Councilwoman Courtney Hamilton, architect Rebecca Bundy, and Betsy Mizell, central Idaho director for the Idaho Conservation League.
The committee requested $101,000 in funding for the fiscal 2020 budget, which starts Oct. 1. At a City Council budget retreat Thursday, Hamilton said the funding could be spread out among multiple years.
With the council facing a $771,000 shortfall, where the general fund revenue is shy of the possible expenditures, the council opted to delay the $101,000 for future years.
“Most of it doesn’t have to be done in the next year,” Councilwoman Amanda Breen said. “I would look closer to zero on the sustainability piece. We can’t just guarantee all these things in the budget.”
For fiscal 2020, the committee requested $18,000 to hire a consultant, $45,000 for LEED certification and net-zero construction of the new fire station, $15,000 for a city-supplied match to a grant program that would increase energy efficiency in the new City Hall building on Fifth Street, $5,000 toward single-use plastic reduction, $3,000 for a recycling pilot program, and $15,000 for matching funds for grants to install renewable energy systems on city facilities.
On May 20, Grant led a presentation on the outcomes that Ketchum will pursue in the upcoming years:
Cut energy use in municipal buildings by 50 percent by 2030, compared to 2007 levels.
Meet critical energy loads through renewable energy by 2030.
Completely eliminate the emissions from city vehicles by 2030.
Cut the amount of water consumed by city operations by 40 percent by 2025. The broader community should cut its water consumption by 40 percent by 2030, and the city should complete the Ketchum Springs Line upgrades by 2022.
Eradicate single-use plastic from the community by 2025.
Achieve zero waste by 2050, and assess how to convert wastewater sludge to beneficial use by 2022.
“We want to lead by example on environmental stewardship,” Grant told the council.
The committee has obtained a $10,000 grant to help achieve some of the work, Grant said.
The committee has a bevy of recommendations to support those energy goals, including designing a new fire station to be net-zero, adding renewable energy generation to the station, upgrading all street lights to LED, supporting Blaine County’s pursuit of a Level 3 fast-charging electric vehicle station, enforcing the ordinance prohibiting idling, renovating the new city hall to be all-electric and investing in a community solar project from Idaho Power, provided the project gets off the ground and proves to be financially viable.
On water, the committee recommended installing low-flow indoor plumbing fixtures, upgrading irrigation fixtures to improve efficiency, enforcing an existing ordinance that prohibits daytime landscaping watering and replacing turf and plants with drought-tolerant species, among other steps.
On waste, the recommendations focus on cutting out single-use plastics from municipal operations, as well as urging businesses and other groups in Ketchum to do the same. That includes plastic bottles, bags, straws and to-go containers. The recommendations also urge that the city sponsor a community event to do e-waste collection, require construction sites to recycle materials, install a new recycling bin and signs at Atkinson Park, set up a central collection point for batteries and organize community events focused on composting yard waste.
Those are short-term action items that would be followed with a subsequent plan.
On May 20, the council voted 4-0 to extend Grant’s contract through Oct. 1, though it won’t entail additional spending. The contract was approved in 2018 for $27,500, and to date about $15,000 has been spent. The council’s vote allows for the remainder of the funding to be used; Grant’s contract was set to expire at the end of May.
She said the new facilities will offer opportunities for the city to show leadership.
“We can do this remodel right when the time comes,” Grant said of the new city hall. “We want to make [the fire station] as sustainable as possible.”
Mayor Neil Bradshaw said he liked some of the recommendations more than others. He had concerns with the initiatives related to recycling, non-carbon-emitting backup power sources and the amount of staff time the goals could consume. He said he favored the goals related to water and single-use plastics.
Council members praised the work and the projects.
“All the proposals are spot on,” Breen said. “It’s so thorough. They’re goals. It doesn’t mean they all have to be met.”