BSWSD district October meeting

Workforce housing Single Family Equivalent rate increase, Powderlight Lot 3 request, and contract extension for RSCI

With cups of hot coffee and an early start to the day, the BSWSD kicked off their monthly virtual meeting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 19. Up for discussion was the Employee Housing SFE Committee, Powderlight Subdivision request for additional SFEs, progress on the new Waste Water Reclamation Facility (WWRF), and the case against the BSWSD and Ron Edwards by the Cottonwood Environmental Law Center.

EMPLOYEE HOUSING COMMITTEE (EHC)

To start things off, four members of the Employee Housing Committee (EHC) and BSWSD’s general manager Ron Edwards discussed Single Family Equivalents (SFE) usage going back to 2018. The group calculated the average amount of SFE for workforce housing units compared to private homes.

They found that condominiums and single-family homes average about 60 SFE per day whereas workforce housing units averaged about 78 SFE per day. Thus, the Employee Housing Committee recommended a rate increase to 1.20 SFE / 1,000 square feet for all future workforce housing projects including condos, apartments, and alternative dwelling units, due to higher water usage. The EHC also pointed out how the community is seeing more ADUs (Alternative Dwelling Unit) pop up and recommended including them in the new rates as well. 

As of right now, these recommendations are part of a discussion that will be revisited in the near future. No resolutions were passed by the BSWSD board. Edwards plans to draft a resolution on the rate increase for workforce housing over the next month and then the board will vote on it at the next meeting.

POWDERLIGHT LOT 3 REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL SFE

Next, the BSWSD board discussed Lone Mountain Land Company’s (LMLC) request for additional SFE’s for the Powderlight Subdivision lot three parcel.

There are currently four lots slated for development on the Powderlight project. LMLC recently applied for 33.25 SFEs in their application for lot three. This will push the subdivision over its SFE allocation. In other words, LMLC is applying for additional SFE they do not have—they are hoping to reallocate the SFE from somewhere else or receive an exemption.

Following a wealth of discussion on alternative options to solve the bottleneck, the BSWSD board ultimately decided to table the discussion for a later date. There were no LMLC representatives at the meeting to answer the board’s questions.

WASTE WATER RECLAMATION FACILITY REQUEST FOR EXTENSION (WWRF)

A bit of background: the WRRF expansion is a BSWSD project focused on a rebuild of the current Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) to fit the growing needs of the Big Sky community as population and development increase. Construction began earlier this year by a company out of Boise called RSCI.

At the moment, due to unforeseen supply chain issues and price hikes due to COVID-19, RSCI has asked the BSWSD board for a 90- day extension on the WWRF project. “From the time we got the go ahead we spent the bulk of June, July, and August trying to get the right materials… [We] burned the first three months waiting for our pipe material to show up,” explained RSCI lead engineer Trent Dyksterhouse.

Dyksterhouse also points to things like steel joists, which were originally 10-12 weeks out for delivery, are now 10-14 months out and $160,000 more expensive. “Can I sit here and look you in the eye and say the supply chain is going to go smooth? No,” told Trent. But at least now, Trent explained, RSCI has the things they need to get started. BSWSD approved the 90-day contract extension request by RSCI unanimously for the WWRF treatment facility.

CASE AGAINST BSWSD

The BSWSD board closed the meeting to the public to discuss the ongoing case by the Cottonwood Environmental Law Center vs. Ron Edwards and the BSWSD. The lawyer representing BSWSD, Susan Swimley, advised no one to comment on the case. According to Cottonwood, who filed suit against BSWSD in the spring of 2020, the BSWSD allegedly violated the Clean Water Act by illegally dumping water with chemicals without a permit into the West Fork of the Gallatin River. The high levels of nitrogen in the water could have led to algae blooms discovered in the Gallatin River in 2020.

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Cori Koenig, editor: editor@lonepeaklookout.com
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