Thanks to United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development loans and other funding measures, New Plymouth is gaining ground in an effort to complete a number of water and sewer infrastructure projects throughout the city, according to the Argus Observer.

In November, Bitterroot Construction, Meridian, began work on upgrading the city’s sewer system. The project was funded by a $1.2 million loan by a U.S.D.A. Rural Development loan, which required a bond to be approved by city residents and a $70,000 match by the city.

New Plymouth sewer plant operator Dax Pearson said Bitterroot has put in about a mile and a quarter of pipe throughout the town to replace worn out or leaking pipe.

“They’ve got about 3,000 feet left to do,” he said, adding the last stretch of pipe is part of the mainline heading to the sewer ponds outside of town.

New Plymouth Public Works Superintendent Beau Ziemer said the sewer pipe replacement was done in some sections by trenchless lining, where the pipes are relined by applying a product that adheres to the old pipe, which does not require the road to be torn up. In other areas, the workers had to dig up the old pipe and replace it with new pipe.

At the same time, Bitterroot Construction is also installing a new screening system at the city’s sewer lagoon that will prevent paper and plastics in the sewage flow from entering the lagoon system.

“That will ultimately make the lagoon last longer,” Ziemer said.

In a separately-funded project, the city is also overhauling its water system in a number of ways. Ziemer said, Bodiford Construction, Horseshoe Bend, began the various water projects in January. The largest component to the water system upgrade involves reducing the amount of arsenic in the city’s water by drilling a new well and installing a tank at the corner of Southwest Second and Adams. Ziemer said the city is approved to draw 400 gallons of water per minute from the well into the new tank. That water will then be pumped to the city’s existing well water tank and blended with that water to reduce the overall arsenic concentration to within allowable federal standards …#8221; less than 10 parts per billion. The test well drilled, Ziemer said, contained less than 2 parts per billion of arsenic, and the new well was dug using the same aquifer.

“We’re hoping it’s completed by the end of this week,” Ziemer said, adding, the city is waiting for the test results for the new well before bringing it online.

Other smaller components of the water project include replacing worn down and leaking water pipe throughout the city and installing an additional water pipe to increase water for fire flows to the north end of town, Ziemer said.

“We’re trying to bring everything up to modern day regulation,” Ziemer said.

The water system project was funded mostly by a $2 million USDA Rural Development loan, which required passage of another bond effort in May 2007 to accompany the wastewater bond. The city also received a $500,000 Rural Development Grant and a $468,000 Idaho Community Development Block Grant through the Idaho Department of Commerce. The city contributed $154,000 of its own funds for the project.

More projects are set to come, including a downtown revitalization project to make curb, gutter, sidewalk and lighting improvements from Ash Street to Elm along U.S. Highway 30 set to begin March 14, Ziemer said. Also upcoming is the second phase of the Safe Routes to Schools project in June, which includes creating a loading zone in front of the elementary school and curb, gutter, sidewalk and lighting improvements.

“It’s a lot of inconvenience at first, but the end result should make the town more appealing and more user-friendly for customers and citizens. But the construction part of it is a little inconvenient for people,” Ziemer said.

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