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PRWID slates hearing on bonds, proposed rate hikes

Sun Advocate reporter

The Price River Water Improvement District is ready to begin advertising for bids on about $7 million worth of water and sewer projects, and is proposing rate increases to help finance the work.

The PRWID board on Tuesday set a public hearing for March 22 at 7 p.m. on the issuance of $3.4 million in bonds and increases of about $1 per month on water and sewer rates to pay for the bonds.

Roughly half of the money for the work is coming from grants awarded by the Community Impact Board, with most of the balance as 20-year, zero-interest bonds. The district is contributing $150,000 in self-generated funds.

Some $2 million is slated for repairs and reconstruction at the waste water treatment plant in Wellington and on sewer collection upgrades.

General wear and tear and corrosion have taken a toll on the facilities over the years.

At the Castle Gate water treatment plant, projects would boost output and deal with environmental compliance issues.

According to general manager Jeff Richens, the plan is to make the water plant "a true 6 million gallon-per-day facility."

The plant now puts out about 4 million. "In the summer months, we're running at maximum capacity five or six days a week," Richens explained. "That's like running an automobile at full speed all the time."

The increase in output capacity will give the district some flexibility in scheduling maintenance, which should prolong the life of the equipment, he added.

PRWID is also researching several options for reducing chlorine compounds in drinking water, Richens said.

Chlorine kills harmful bacteria and microbes, but it also combines with organic material to produce compounds that could cause health effects over the long term.

The reason for the long-term analysis of treatment methods is because the district wants to find the one that is best for year-round operations. Water characteristics vary from season to season.

In summer, for example, algae bloom in Scofield Reservoir and the Price River and enter the treatment plant. This provides more organic matter to react with chlorine.

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