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SANTAQUIN SET TO APPROVE SEWER LAGOON SITE

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Shortly after the July 4 weekend, Santaquin officials could be well on their way to replacing the town's current antiquated septic-tank system. Or they may have opened a whole new can of worms.

Members of the Santaquin City Council now say they will approve the final site plan for a proposed sewer lagoon - part of a $4.7 million wastewater treatment and disposal system Santaquin voters approved in a 1991 election - during their July 6 meeting.For more than a year, the city has been squabbling with local fruit farmers about the site of the proposed lagoon. Santaquin officials said they needed nearly 43 acres owned by some fruit farmers to construct the lagoon, while fruit growers and the Utah Farm Bureau Federation said the lagoon could cripple an already-hurting fruit industry.

But this spring, Santaquin officials finally reached an agreement with local fruit growers, enabling the town to cement its plans and set a timetable for the sewer system's construction.

As part of the compromise, Sunrise Engineering's Val Kofoed and city officials unveiled a new plan in March to replace the city's existing septic-tank system, which could pose health and contamination problems in the next few years due to leaks.

Kofoed said the compromise entails building a lagoon-type sewer system but added that the lagoon site will likely be somewhere west of town. However, if that site is near any fruit orchards, the farmers' "Hatfields and McCoys" feud with the city could start anew.

Costs would likely increase by nearly $1 million with the new plan. But that could be picked up by state agencies because the city's low personal-income level makes it eligible for further grants.

According to Kofoed, the project now includes a "wet well" that would be located on a part of the original lagoon site the town acquired from Dick and Dale Saunders. The sewage would flow to the well, where it would be processed and then pumped back to the southwest.

However, pumping the processed sewage back would require installing two pumps, adding to the project cost. However, Kofoed said Santaquin could grow alfalfa at the west-field site - much as Heber City does at one of its sewer sites - and sell the hay to offset some of the project costs.

Preliminary work on the project could begin as early as fall. The entire system could be on line by next spring or summer.

The City Council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, 45 W. 100 South.