As environmental advocates around Jackson Hole push for cleaner water, this $2 million project would upgrade the stormwater system that carries Cache Creek underground through downtown and into Flat Creek.
The current arrangement, pieced together haphazardly over the past 60 or 70 years, lacks modern-day treatment methods required to remove harmful pollutants from stormwater, Town Manager Larry Pardee said.
“The old system is an eclectic series of different-sized pipes and materials,” he said. “There were no real standards applied.”
The upgrade would include treatment units to filter water according to current best practices, Pardee said. As of now, the sediment, dirt, grease, oil and other substances from runoff across nearly 300 acres of Jackson’s roads flow into Flat Creek essentially untreated.
Flat Creek has been labeled an impaired waterway by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality since 1996. Stormwater upgrades like this are one of the town’s strategies for restoring the creek’s health.
Another problem is that much of the pipe now runs under private property. The new one would be located within the public right-of-way, making it easier for the town to perform repairs in the future.
Construction crews began replacing sections of the tube this summer but have completed only a small portion of the project. The area it encompasses is essentially all of north-central Jackson, from St. John’s Medical Center to the five-way intersection, and north to Dairy Queen.
With the town’s current funding, Pardee said, it would likely take four or five years to finish replacing the tube, prolonging pollution. With SPET funding, he said, the project could be finished in two or three years.
“It’s something we should have done many years ago,” Pardee said. “But we have an opportunity.”