Wastewater Treatment Plant
The Wastewater Treatment Plant Operations are managed to be in compliance with federal and state regulations and with the Clean Water Act. Public Works is responsible for protecting environmental quality and public health through the safe and efficient operation and maintenance of the wastewater treatment facility.
Public Outreach on Plant (POOP) Updates
We will update this page as more details become available
The City of Driggs has been working tirelessly for years on a challenging situation with our current Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP). There have been many questions about the WWTP- Is it working? What’s happening? Are we out of compliance? In an effort to answer your questions, we want to let everyone know about our POOP (Public Outreach on Plant)!
We’ve been trying to find a solution. Testing. Cleaning. Working with Engineers. Revising our WWTP Plan. Meanwhile, the plant is operating and will continue processing 400,0000 to 600,000 gallons of waste per day. Unfortunately, the current plant has not been able to consistently keep the ammonia level below the Department of Environmental Quality's maximum limit for our water discharge channel, however, it is consistently well under other discharge limits on E.Coli, total suspended solids (TSS), and biological oxygen demand (BOD).
After much work considering all the options, an engineering firm has written a new facility plan for our WWTP, * (original letter edited due to change in schedule.) This new plan will first be reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that the proposed solutions are achievable and will meet DEQ standards. Following their review, the plan will be presented to City Council. During this Public Hearing (Date TBD), we want the community to learn about this plan and what needs to happen. A solution is needed for us to come into compliance, and we must consider the environment, waterways, and fiscal responsibility in finding the best solution.
The City will host an informational tour at the WWTP. Please follow this link to sign up for a spot on Tuesday 10/25 at 9am. Read the FAQs listed below, and stay tuned as we plan an Open House and more POOP to educate everyone on this important topic for our valley.
Mayor August Christensen
For Immediate Release: October 24, 2022
Waste Water Treatment Plant Lawsuit Will Ultimately Help The City Of Driggs
DRIGGS - The Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in the City of Driggs is out of compliance with its National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPEDS) permit. The NPEDS permit is issued under the Clean Water Act by the Environmental Protection Agency. As a result of the current facility’s inability to meet the allowed levels of ammonia in treated water discharged from the plant consistently, the judicial branch of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Driggs to help bring the plant into compliance.
“Although it seems scary to be sued by the Department of Justice, it's actually an opportunity to receive support and resources from the Federal Government. We want to make sure that any future decisions for our WWTP are the absolute best decisions and that all results create a fully functioning plant for decades to come,” states Mayor August Christensen. “We have a series of meetings planned with the EPA to bring them up to speed on all aspects of our plant,” she adds.
The EPA is currently reviewing the WWTP Draft Facility Plan to consider the best possible solutions. City officials and Staff will meet with the EPA to discuss in-depth technical issues later this month. After the EPA’s review, a new WWTP Facility Plan will be presented to City Council and sent to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality for review. Once a new facility plan is adopted, steps will be taken to resolve the problem within a set timeline.
City of Driggs Attorney Sam Angell states, “Yes, a lawsuit has been filed. We’ve known this is coming. This is a procedural step in the process of getting to a consent decree which is a settlement agreement between the EPA and the City of Driggs to solve the problem. This is part of months of work with the EPA to find solutions.”
“The facility typically removes 90-95% of the BOD, TSS, and E.Coli, which is significantly more than required,” City Engineer Jay Mazalewski explains. “Unfortunately, the treatment facility cannot remove enough ammonia to meet our stringent discharge requirements. I have spent the last five years working with engineers, manufacturers, regulatory agencies, and laboratories, trying to solve the ammonia issue. Working with the EPA is the next step in the process of coming up with a long-term solution,” he remarks.
The City of Driggs is cooperating with the Department of Justice and EPA to resolve this issue. Read more details on the matter and FAQs about the WWTP online at DriggsIdaho.org/wwtp. This webpage will be updated as more information becomes available. -END-
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Waste Water Treatment Plant FAQs
Answers to your most common questions. Have more? Let us know!
Established in the late 1960s, the WWTP was upgraded through the decades and converted from a lagoon system to a mechanical plant in 2013. Five years ago in 2018, the plant had 1.2 million gallons a day running through the treatment process. City staff identified much of this was actually groundwater infiltrating the pipes, and much work was done to reduce this unnecessary water treatment, a process called I&I Reduction: Inflow and Infiltration Reduction.
Yes. Simply stated, the Driggs wastewater treatment facility has a multi-stage activated biological process plant, which uses bacteria to digest the contaminants in wastewater. The facility cannot meet the ammonia discharge limits set by the permit with the Environmental Protection Agency. The facility is consistently meeting all other discharge requirements.
There are different classifications of capacity for a treatment plant. The current plant has a Hydraulic Capacity of 900K gallons per day of liquid.
Loading Capacity, which is how dirty the water is with things like human waste, ammonia, grease, etc. is broken down into subcategories. Levels we measure in this category are the BOD or biological oxygen demand, the TSS or total suspended solids, Ammonia, and E. Coli. All plants are designed to handle certain levels of pounds per day, and our draft facility plan study is showing that we are at the design capacity for BOD and TSS. However, the plant is still removing 90-95% of BOD and TSS, and thus we are not exceeding discharge limits in these categories.
The current plant has historically failed to meet standards to mitigate the ammonia level in discharge water feeding into a small creek that feeds into the Teton River. Now, as of 2022, we are approaching the maximum loading capacity on the other classifications, thus the current plant needs to be expanded or construct a plant that operates on a different treatment process.
The current plant is located 1 mile west of Main Street on Bates Road. It is staffed with 1 full-time employee, an Operator in Charge with a Level 3 WWTP License, and other city public works staff who assist regularly. Staff oversees operational work, cleaning, and testing for quality control. It is a requirement to submit test results two times per month to the Department of Environmental Quality. City staff also processes and calibrates in-house lab testing weekly. Please note that the site is not open to the public for safety and security reasons.
It is an MSABP Fixed Film Treatment Process: Multi-stage Activated Biological Process Plant, which uses bacteria to digest the contaminants in wastewater.
Construction was completed in 2013.
Treated effluent is discharged into the unnamed tributary of Woods Creek which then flows approximately 3 river miles to reach the Teton River. Approximately 400,000 to 600,000 gallons per day flow out of the treatment facility.
The City of Driggs, the City of Victor, and a few subdivisions in Teton County are connected to the plant, which currently processes 600,000 gallons daily.
Consent Order Timeline- Measures to bring the plant into compliance
This document will be linked as soon as the staff report is ready. Thank you for your patience as staff works hard to compile the hefty amount of details on this topic.
Yes. The EPA determines the max Ammonia discharge limit for each WWTP. The City of Driggs WWTP ammonia discharge limit is 0.84mg/L average monthly limit and 1.6mg/L instantaneous maximum daily limit. The city is required to test all variables on a set schedule. Please see the chart below for more data requirements.
- In 2018, City Council approved to update the Facility Plan from 2010.
- Forsgren Associates out of Rexburg, were selected by the City of Driggs and the City of Victor and were hired to update the Wastewater treatment plant facility plan and to determine how to bring the plant into compliance.
- Public Works staff tried various solutions to improve the current plant such as I&I Reduction, cleaning the MSABP, microbiology assessments, toxicity research, and more. However, ammonia levels have not come below permit limits.
- MurraySmith out of Boise, Idaho was hired for a third-party review of the Draft Facility Plan by Forsgren Engineering in 2022 to ensure this is the most fiscally responsible plan. The review came back with confirmation that the plan was correct. Both engineering firms agreed that keeping the current plant is like dumping money into a car that doesn't run.
- October 2022: The Environmental Protection Agency requested to review the Draft Facility Plan to ensure that the proposed plan is a viable solution capable of meeting environmental standards.
- Date TBD: Council will review and choose whether or not to accept the Facility Plan.
- Late 2022/ early 2023 Plan would be submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality.
- The next phase would require a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) to determine specifics for the recommended solution.
- A solution goes out to bid for construction.
Yes. This is part of the process for the judicial arm of the Environmental Protection Agency, the DOJ, to reach an agreement with the City of Driggs called a consent decree to lock in the steps and timeline for the WWTP to meet the permit limits. See the press release above for specifics. More details will be added to this webpage as information becomes available.
Yes! Stop flushing wipes! And Grease! Use water conservation best practices! Any minimizing of difficult-to-process waste will help our current situation. See our Water Conservation and FOG prevention information on the Utilities: Water and Sewer Page
Please contact city staff with any additional questions that we can help answer. As more information becomes available with the new facility plan and phases toward a solution, we will update this page. Thank you for taking the time to learn about our city's wastewater treatment plant.