After meeting with other area officials, Santaquin's mayor said he and members of the City Council have still not eliminated all avenues of solving the city's sewer problems but that a final decision is soon in coming.
Lynn Crook recently told the Deseret News that he met with Payson Mayor Richard Harmer and members of the Utah County Commission to discuss whether Santaquin might tie its sewer lines into Payson's solid waste disposal facilities or whether the city might relocate the site of its proposed gravity-flow sewer facility."We're still checking out every possible alternative," Crook said. "We felt we'd done all our homework, but apparently there are still some questions that residents want answered."
Santaquin currently employs a septic-tank system that Environmental Protection Agency and county health officials have warned could create possible health problems and that city officials say will not allow for future possible expansion and growth.
For the past 18 months, city officials have investigated constructing a new sewer system, and engineers have determined that an aeration-type lagoon system would be the most cost-effective and provide the best and safest service for residents. To further that goal, Santaquin voters approved the $4.7 million project in an election next year. Roughly one-half of those construction costs will come from federal grants and the rest will come from revenue bonds from both the state Board of Water Quality and Farmer's Home Administration - both to be repaid later from residential sewer connection and service fees.
According to Crook, the best possible spot to construct the lagoons would be in the middle of some county residents' fruit orchards. Those residents have told Santaquin officials that they will not sell the land to the city, which set off a controversy. Crook and other officials, under the advice of attorney Ken Chamberlain, told the farmers that they could invoke a little-known state statute that would allow them to condemn the property and take possession if they deemed it necessary.
The farmers retained the services of attorney William Thurman Sr., who filed an official letter of protest against the proposal and informed city officials that the farmers may choose to file suit against the city should they start condemnation proceedings. Also, Thurman and the farmers asked Crook and the council to investigate tying into Payson's lines or trying another alternative, such as installing a pump-operated system.
Engineer Val Kofoed of Sunrise Engineering told the council that pumping could not only cost more but would have far more chances to malfunction, while the Payson proposal could cost the city an extra $720,000. After a Thursday meeting with Mayor Harmer, Crook said that estimate could be quite conservative.
"That might be a little low after what we've been told by Payson," Crook said.
However, Crook said that alternative and others have not been eliminated. Instead, the council will hear a presentation from Harmer and will discuss the alternative plans before making their final decision that same night. That hearing will be held during the council's Feb. 18 meeting. The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, 45 W. 100 South.