When you’re talking sewer mains, size matters. Two inches is enough to prompt months of discussion.
When constructing the new Munger Mountain Elementary School, Teton County School District staff originally wanted a 6-inch sewer main for efficiency reasons. After talk of growth and worries about expansion this summer staff settled on a 4-inch main, and on July 18, 2016, the Jackson Town Council voted to approve the district’s sewer connection and use agreement.
On May 15 the Town Council reconsidered the decision. A motion to allow an increase to a 6-inch main passed 3-2, with Councilman Jim Stanford and Mayor Pete Muldoon opposed.
Yet so far no way to pay for a bigger pipe has materialized.
School district staffers say they can’t pay for the changes at this point.
“It can’t cost the district money we don’t have nor time we don’t have,” said Jeff Daugherty, assistant superintendent. “We’ve already paid to design a pipe once. The Legislature did not provide us funds to design it again.”
Jackson Town Manager Bob McLaurin said the town won’t pay for the changes either — an estimated cost of at least $45,000 — and he’s not sure who will or how likely any changes are.
“That’s up to the Hog Island Sewer Improvement District to come up with whatever they need,” he said. “So if they don’t have the money, we’ll see how that works out. It’s going to have to happen here pretty quick.”
Ty Ross, president of the district, said that he hasn’t been approached by the district or the Town Council to provide funding but that his organization is “making a concerted effort to acquire some funding for the project.”
Because the district was formed in January of this year it isn’t eligible to levy funds on taxpayers until 2018.
The revenue stream is “pretty limited,” Ross said. “We understand it’s a tight timeline, but I think it’s an imperative modification, if at all possible.”
The town of Jackson owns and operates the wastewater treatment plant and associated facilities. It makes the wastewater collection and treatment services available to town residents and some nearby areas of Teton County.
Because the school district is a public entity providing sewage collection services to the site, it has agreed to allow the neighboring Wyoming Department of Transportation Facility and Teton County Weed and Pest District Facility to connect through the district’s main.
Several weeks ago the town received a letter from Ross requesting the new sewer line be upsized 2 inches to allow more of the South Park area to be served.
There are worries that a larger sewer capacity means more growth south of town. The 4-inch size would provide sewer service for the users included currently in the Teton County Comprehensive Plan who are allowed in the Teton County Zoning Ordinance.
Upsizing the line will, according to the town of Jackson analysis, “enable additional development over and above what is currently called for in the Comprehensive Plan.”
A 4-inch sewer main is more than enough to serve the school’s capacity needs, but a 6-inch main would be more efficient. The narrower the pipe, the more drag as liquid flows through, so a larger size means less drag.
After the Town Council’s decision in July, design documents were drawn up to reflect the 4-inch size restriction, and necessary permits were obtained. Daugherty said the school’s project subcontractor is already ordering pumps and pipes — 4 miles of pipe, to be specific.
If the size of the sewer main is changed, the subcontractor will have to send those back and order the correct size.
That, in addition to demobilizing and remobilizing in the event of a change, could cause the $45,000 low-end cost estimate to skyrocket.
Repermitting through the Department of Environmental Quality would increase the engineering expenses involved, and Ross said he hopes it wouldn’t cost more than $80,000 to $100,000 total.
For those reasons there are worries that the changes in size might delay the new school’s timeline. Munger Mountain Elementary is slated to open before school starts in August of 2018.
According to the district’s information coordinator, Charlotte Reynolds, “The district will move forward only if it doesn’t impact our timeline.
“We can’t let any change at this point slow down the project,” Reynolds said.