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Water and Sewer approve further Spanish Peaks development

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The storage ponds of the Big Sky Water and Sewer District store treated effluent from around Big Sky, including Spanish Peaks, until it can be irrigated on area golf courses. On June 18, the district board approved a capacity letter that confirms the district has the sewer capacity to accommodate the club’s next phase of buildout. PHOTO BY JENNINGS BARMORE

Review bids for wastewater plant upgrade technology

By Bay Stephens LOCAL EDITOR

BIG SKY – During their June 18 meeting, the Big Sky Water and Sewer District board approved a motion to write a capacity letter for an agreement granting Spanish Peaks’ Phase 3C development. They also reviewed bids for the MBR filtration technology that would be implemented in the wastewater treatment plant upgrade currently under design.

A subcommittee of the BSWSD board met on June 14 with their attorney and Spanish Peaks representatives to evaluate a request for capacity from the resort’s developer. A 2002 agreement between the district and the developer of Spanish Peaks obligates the district to provide 42.5 million gallons of wastewater flow a year to the resort within a specific boundary.

In order for developments to be approved, developers must prove to the county and DEQ that there is sewer capacity for the proposed project, which can be accomplished via a capacity letter from the district. The letter Spanish Peaks requested confirms that the district has enough capacity for the 19 housing and duplex units that comprise the resort’s Phase 3C development.

The development partially crosses out of the boundary delineated in the 2002 agreement. The district still gave the capacity letter to the developer, but made clear that it counts toward the 42.5 million gallon total that the resort will receive, even if the new development is not on the land to which the agreement refers.

Board member Brian Wheeler added to the motion that the developer and the district must work to resolve any discrepancies between the 2002 agreement and the district boundaries.

Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services engineer Scott Buecker, who is heading the district’s wastewater treatment plant upgrade process, also briefed the board on three bids they had received from companies to supply the MBR filtration technology that would allow the plant to take on more capacity and treat it to a higher standard than the current plant.

Two firms were seriously considered, offering bidding cost estimates that were significantly lower than the board expected. Suez Water Technologies and Solutions and Evoqua Water Technologies bid the MBR equipment for the upgrade for $1.32 million and $1.54 million, respectively.

After evaluating the bids, the overall cost estimate for the lifecycle of both companies’ technology was similar, around $3 million.

“I like where we’re at,” General Manager Ron Edwards said. “They’re both reputable companies. These two have the biggest market share and they have the most MBR plants installed across the U.S. I would say.”

The board advised Buecker and Edwards to find references from other plants that have used either company’s technology to gain a better grasp on which would best suit their needs. The board will choose one at their July 16 meeting.

At this point, the earliest groundbreaking for the plant would be spring of 2021 with construction over two summers so that the new system was operating by 2023.

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