Sewer upgrades along annexation route discussed
Saratoga sewer board hears homeowner ideas, talks contested septic dumping, schedules special meeting
The Saratoga Water and Sewer Joint Powers Board (Sewer Board) met Wednesday to work through a relatively short agenda, slowing down only to address concerns of members of the public and businesses.
The sewer board discussed bids for improvements soon to be underway at the town’s sewage lagoon and scheduled a special meeting to accept contracts. The board also discussed a sewage issue affecting a handful of homes near South River and Veteran’s Streets in Saratoga, and addressed questions from a Rawlins-based portable outhouse and septic system company.
Members of the public who live in a handful of houses near where South River and South Veteran’s Street converge in Saratoga’s south side addressed board members about a long-running sewage problem affecting the homes.
Dan Hodgkiss, a owner of one of the affected homes, addressed the members asking if there was a way the sewer board could work with the homeowners to address the problems as they work to bring the recently annexed U.S. Forest Service (USFS) property nearby on to the town’s water and sewer system.
According to sewer board chairman Don Price, the issues at the homes in question are caused by improper sewer lines that were installed years ago.
During the recent debate by the Saratoga Town Council as to whether the USFS property should be annexed into the town or not, owners of the same homes in question appeared and voiced concerns that allowing the USFS to tie into the town’s sewage system would overburden the system and cause even more problems for the owners of the homes serviced by the irregular lines.
Hodgkiss asked board members if there were a way the homeowners, the sewer board and the USFS could cooperate to reduce the cost of rectifying the homeowners’ issues while work was being done to bring the USFS onto the town’s sewage and water system.
Because the Forest Service will be installing a lift station and paying for paving, new gutters and curbs as part of their installation, the homeowners believe it would reduce the expense of fixing their issues, Hodgkiss told board members.
Hodgkiss also said he hired an engineering firm, North Fork Engineering of Saratoga, to study the situation. Jon Nelson of North Fork Engineering was present at the meeting and told board members because a lift station was being installed nearby presented an opportunity to allow a sewage reroute from the homes.
Price advised the homeowners to have their engineer meet with the USFS’ engineering firm to discuss the possibility. Hodgkiss said they planned to do that, but wanted to start with the Sewer Board to keep them in the loop.
“We’re not asking you to make any decision tonight,” Hodgkiss said. “We just want you to know that this is the direction we think is the right way to go.”
Another of the homeowners asked the board about funding, saying the repairs were a heavy financial burden on the homeowners, and those who purchased their homes there were unaware of the issues caused by the improper sewer lines installed decades earlier.
She said she wanted to know if there were grants or other monies available from the state to rectify the situation.
Price said he was not aware of any grants available a regular citizen could ask for, but he did encourage the homeowners to research whether there were grants available.
Price concluded by saying the board was interested in working with the affected homeowners. “Things were done wrongly in the past,” Price said. “It’s not any fault of yours that it’s done incorrectly, but we’d all like to work together on how we can correct the problem.”
Another issue from the public which had caused tensions at the previous week meeting of the Upper Platte River Solid Waste Disposal District (landfill board). Jeremiah Garner of Blackwater Septic Solutions Inc., of Rawlins, appeared at the sewer board meeting to ask why his company was not allowed to dump waste at Saratoga’s sewage facility, as other companies were allowed.
Garner said he thought it was unfair Saratoga would not allow him to dump waste collected from Saratoga septic systems, while other competing companies can dump that waste at the town’s facility.
“I’m not asking to bring waste from Rawlins,” Garner told board members. “I don’t know where the problem is if I do a septic tank versus Aspen Portable Toilets or Posey Wagon; I don’t know why I’m getting excluded.”
Those three companies, Price said, had been grandfathered in. In the past, he explained, one company was permitted to dump at the sewage facility, and after that company split into two, both entities were grandfathered in.
Later, one of the two split again and the now three companies were grandfathered in. The board, Price said, would prefer nobody dump septic system waste at the town’s facility.
Garner asked why a person with a mailbox in Saratoga cannot expect to have septic waste disposed of at Saratoga’s facilities.
Board member Richard Raymer explained everyone in the town of Saratoga is on the town’s sewer system and there are no septic tanks in town limits. Those who live outside the town limits may have a Saratoga address as far as the U.S. Postal Service is concerned, but they do not pay fees to the town of Saratoga for sewage or septic waste dumping.
After the exchange, Garner left the meeting.
Amid these issues, the sewer board scheduled a special meeting to approve bids for sewage lagoon improvements. That meeting will be held 4:30 p.m. June 28 at Saratoga Town Hall.
The next regular meeting of the sewer board will be held 6 p.m. July 12 at Saratoga Town Hall.