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Home > City Departments > Public Works > Wastewater Division

Public Works

Wastewater Division

Frequently Asked Questions

Treatment Plant Operations


Tour PlantPhoto by: Roger Parker

The City of Hailey owns and operates a POTW (Publicly Owned Treatment Works) that treats domestic and commercial wastewater. The type of plant is known as an SBR (Sequential Batch Reactor) and the objective of treatment is to remove as much of the nutrients (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus, dissolved organic matter) and solids (e.g. grit, suspended organic matter) as possible. This is accomplished through several steps and takes about 8 hours from the time the wastewater enters the plant until the discharge is put into the river.

Photo by: Ray Hyde

The first concern is to get the wastewater to the plant. This is facilitated by the use of 2 lift stations that each have 2 large pumps to force the wastewater into the plant. These pumps also 'mix' the wastewater so that most waste material is reduced to very small particles. Once in the plant, the wastewater passes through a self-cleaning, cylindrical fine screen that removes all the large pieces of debris like paper towels from the waste stream. Next, the water passes through a grit separator. By going around this whirlpool-like device, the wastewater slows down and lets the heavier material such as coffee grounds and sand fall out and settle in the bottom. The collected grit is then forced up into a grit classifier that washes and dries the grit before depositing it in a dumpster. This completes the preliminary treatment of the wastewater.

Photo by: Ray Hyde

Once all the material that could cause problems in the plant biofouling pumps or plugging pipes is removed, the process moves on to treat the nutrients and organic matter in the wastewater. Other treatment plants also have primary treatment, but this plant goes directly to secondary treatment. During this phase of treatment, the bacteria in the reactor basin remove organic matter by converting it into CO2, water, and more bacteria. They also use up phosphorus and nitrogen in their life cycle. Some of the bacteria require oxygen (aerobic bacteria) to work efficiently and others need an environment without oxygen to their job (anaerobic bacteria). Each type of bacteria excels at a specific job. Some remove ammonia very well while others remove phosphorus better than most.

So, during the secondary treatment, the operator must adjust the environment in the reactor basins to help the different kinds of bacteria do the best they can. The amount of air pumped in, the time with no oxygen, and the time the bacteria are in contact with the wastewater are some ways the operator can change the conditions of the basins.

Photo by: Roger Parker

When the bacteria have done all they can, the next phase of the secondary treatment starts. In this phase, the mixing of the basins is stopped and the bacteria and unused organic matter (sludge) are allowed to settle for a certain amount of time after which the relatively clear supernatant is drawn off the top. At this point the wastewater is done with most of its treatment except for a final filter (tertiary treatment) to remove some of the very fine solids that won't settle and UV (ultraviolet) disinfection to kill any pathogens in the water. Then the water flows, by gravity, to a perforated discharge pipe buried 6 feet under the river.

The last major portion of the process is wasting. When the bacteria reproduce, they produce so many new bacteria that every day a portion must be removed. If they weren't removed, there wouldn't be any settling and the effluent would not meet permit requirements. Ultimately, the wasted bacteria ends up as part of the composting efforts at Ohio Gulch after being hauled by tanker truck and drying in the sun for a few months.

At the Woodside Treatment Plant, this type of treatment works very well. The EPA permit allows us to discharge 30 mg/L of suspended solids (TSS) and 30 mg/L BOD into the Big Wood River. The typical output of this plant is 1 mg/L TSS and 2 mg/L BOD! There are many other tests that must be done on a regular basis to make sure that the treatment plant is not impacting the river detrimentally because the Big Wood has been designated as a Special Resource Water. Many of these tests are run more often than required so that the process can be optimized and any potential problems can be resolved before they impact the river.

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Rates, New Connections and New Accounts

Wastewater Rate Table

New Connections

A permit is required prior to any new connection to the municipal wastewater system. An Application for Water and Wastewater Permit should be submitted. Once the application is reviewed and approved, and all applicable fees are paid, the permit is issued.

For questions about new connections, please call the Public Works Department at 208-788-9830, ext. 1.

New Accounts

When someone purchases a home, in the majority of cases the City of Hailey automatically receives the information from the title company, and transfers the utility bill into the new owners name.

In order for a tenant to receive a utility bill, the city requires an Owner/Tenant Agreement to be on file.

For questions about new accounts, please call the Utility Billing Clerk at 208-788-4221.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is it ok to pour cooking grease/oil down the drain?

A.  No. There are several reasons why disposing of cooking grease down the drain is a bad idea:

1) Even if you use hot water to wash it down, once the water cools down further along in your sewer pipe, that grease will solidify and coat the pipe. This will eventually clog your pipe and possibly cause a back-up into your home.

2) If a lot of grease gets into the sewer system, the lines get restricted causing the wastewater to go septic giving off a rotten-egg odor. It can also dissolve concrete in the system. There is also increased risk of having back-ups into many homes.

3) Once that grease gets to the treatment plant, it is very difficult to treat and ends up causing unwanted problems at the plant.

Please note: all restaurants in the City of Hailey are required to have a grease trap installed and maintained so most of our major source of grease is residential. Please dispose of your grease in the trash.

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Q2. Can I dump car fluids down the drain or a manhole?

A.  No, please do not dump antifreeze, motor oil, or other car fluids into the sewer system. These fluids are toxic to the organisms at the plant that are used to treat the wastewater. Please contact your local service station about where you can dispose of these items. Ohio Gulch Transfer Station will take small amounts of motor oil only.

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Q3. What other kinds of things should not be put down the drain or toilet

A.  We would prefer you didn't flush dental floss, paper towels, or other things not intended for the toilet. These get wrapped around components in the system and cause blockages. Please dispose of these items in the trash.

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Q4. Who is responsible for maintenance of the sewer system?

A.  The property owner is responsible for their service from the home/business to the main sewer line, including the connection at the main-line pipe. The city is responsible for maintaining the sewer main lines.

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Q5. What is that big yellow truck I see driving around town?

A.  That is how we maintain the sewer lines. With that truck, we clean out the sewer lines on a regular basis and vacuum out any material blocking the lines such as tree roots, rocks, grease, etc.

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Q6. Are there tours of the treatment plant?

A.  We would like everyone in the city to come see what we do at the plant. If you would like a tour please call 208-578-2211, ext. 2, to set up a time. We only need a couple days advance notice. Teachers of all grade levels are encouraged to bring their science classes.

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Wastewater Contact Information

Steve Holyoak
Wastewater Division Manager
Phone: 208-578-2211, ext. 2
E-mail: steve.holyoak@haileycityhall.org

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