City Government

Avimor Plans Place Poop In Boise


The Avimor planned community north of Eagle along Highway 55 plans to use Boise City sewage facilities to treat sewage before dumping it into the Boise River. Boise officials have never heard about it.
The GUARDIAN has confirmed Avimor plans to build an “activated sludge” plant in the foothills and clarify raw sewage through a “membrane filter.” The accumulated sludge captured on the filter will be trucked along Highway 55 through Eagle to the Boise plant for
final treatment.

Mark Mason, the regional engineering manager for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, confirmed the plan Tuesday. Mason said the DEQ has been aware of the Avimor plan “all along.” He noted that a staffer at Avimor told him no agreement has been signed between the developer and Boise City.

Mason called the details of the plan–trucking sludge from preliminary treatment facilities–a common practice.

A spokesman for Team Dave told us “No one in the City knows anything of this. We have checked with public works and the mayor’s office. This is the first we have heard of it.”

Since Mayor Dave Bieter has publicly opposed the Avimor development, we were shocked to hear plans to have Boise treat the outside poop. We certainly hope Team Dave sticks to its anti-sprawl position on this “self contained planned community” which apparently isn’t so self contained.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Lib.Redneck
    Dec 18, 2007, 2:09 pm

    What might be the market rate for treating sewage in Boise City? At the expense of the potential customer (Avimor): calculate the cost per ton of sewage processing and allow the Avimor Neighborhood Association to pay a fair market rate for Boise to treat the sewage.

    The risks involved in trucking human waste should be no more than the risks involved in trucking nuclear waste to an abandoned Titan Missile site along the Snake River for long term storage…

    I would prefer Avimor build its own state-of-the-art treatment facility as a model for future sprawling developments to follow.

    If this was a new 80 acre trailer park being built south of the airport and Boise City found out the developers were planning on trucking in feces do you think Boise would let it happen?

  2. Poo poo on Team Dave. For not knowing and not getting an Memorandum of Understanding to describe this relationship. Ada County should have required a MOU also.

    As for the sludge, getting the water out is half the battle for a sewer processing facility. These new membrane systems should not be feared. They are a technology that is becoming more prevelent and acceptable whether a high rise in Tokyo or a rural town. Besides this sludge could be put to good use. The link provides an interesting way Fairbanks,AK has solved their sludge dilema.

  3. Clancy and Redneck–
    It seems LOGICAL to me that the G-man is just trying to show that a growth project Bieter opposses is presuming to have Boise Citizens pay for infrastructure to facilitate their greedy development. The technical side is not important.

  4. Well now if Boise charged them enough then Boise home owners won’t have any more fee’s! Right!
    Hummm is this bad thinking?

  5. Clippityclop
    Dec 18, 2007, 4:00 pm

    I guess poop really does roll down hill.
    Does this mean that Avimor is in deep doo-doo?
    I can’t imagine Mayor Bieter rolling out the red carpet for sludge-handling, unless there’s major bling in that there poop.

  6. I have no doubts about Team Dave selling out to the developer. Boise takes the s__t from Eagle so they can grow. They will take it from Avimor too. It is just a matter of negotiating the price at this point. Bieter doesn’t have the guts to play his trump card and say no.

  7. Why does Team Dave have to take sh!+ from Avimor? They get it from the Guardian every week.

    Good work on this Guardian. I really think the Avimor project will lead to Phoenix type sprawl. Its a leapfrog proposal creating taxing entities to stranglehold local government. And it doesn’t look like they are paying their way either.

  8. If Avimor claims to be a self-contained planned community, they should really treat their own sewage. If Boise chooses to accept the stuff, I guess that would pass the smell test – after all, Boise accepts some of Eagle’s dung. There is actually some merit in having fewer sewage processing plants, both from an environmental and cost perspective. Really, why shouldn’t Boise charge them an above-market rate, whatever Boise can get? Boise is only obligated to provide affordable services to people in its jurisdiction. If someone outside wants service, why shouldn’t Boise make them pay out the wazoo – literally – and use that profit for its own citizens’ benefit?

  9. You would think that the WONK’S at City Hall/Ada County/Eagle would have accumulated a lot of 20/20 hindsight by now on poor development projects. It appears that there are no limits on what the cities in this valley will do to create a TRAIN WRECK for the taxpayers to clean up when the devleopers leave town.

    Somebody needs to ask “What were you thinking”? What a crappy way to handle sewage. (no pun intended)

  10. Oh wait! I have an idea. The City of Eagle could develop their own small public utility sewer system. When that system starts costing excessive amounts of money to run because it is so badly managed by an outside contractor and it starts to fall apart, then they could purchase a struggling local sewage company to combine the inefficent efforts of both companies.

    How would they pay for it? Easy. The City of Eagle will create an LID for a large segment of the city residents – not all of them, of course, because the city would have to exclude the wealthiest of their citizens – and have the LID paid for by residents would are on their own septic systems. Why would individual septic system users have to pay into an LID for a service they never use? Well, that is a toughie – oh wait a minute – those septic system users are getting the free benefit of the city’s soil to drain their leach fields so they should pay, or something like that. Maybe the City could charge them for fire protection – no, that has already been tried. Would it work? Yes, of course. They are already doing it on the Water System LID.

  11. curious george
    Dec 18, 2007, 6:16 pm

    A little clarification. The City of Eagle doesn’t even have the simplest of sewage pre-treatments, it tanks its raw sewage and pays Boise to treat the entire load. The membrane bio-reactor (MBR) at Avimor is far more sophisticated.

    Clancy is correct regarding the potential uses for reclaimed sludge, but note the need to address heavy metal contamination. Given that the Avimor community doesn’t plan on any heavy industrial uses (and the MBR filters also screen out pathogens), the off-chance of heavy metal contamination is much lower than anything being shipped in from Eagle.

    The additional value that such compartmentalized treatment systems bring to the localities that use them, is the liquid harvested from the filtration process. This liquid is nearly pure water – Class B in engineering parlance. The only difference between Class B and Class A (drinkable) water is the final “polishing”, which removes ultra-fine particulates (those smaller than a bacteria) and the absense of trace amounts of chlorine (added to drinking water to keep the water sterilized in the delivery pipes). This Class B water is perfect for (and legal to use for) irrigation – in fact it will be much cleaner than the pressurized irrigation water used by the City of Caldwell.

    The facility at Avimor is essentially identical to the state-of-the-art MBR treatment facility now being used by the City of Star. The only difference is Avimor will be harvesting the water from the raw sewage.

    Some communities that use MBR facilities inject the Class B water from their sewer treatment plants into their aquifers, letting the aquifer’s natural filtration process handle the final polishing. This ground water is then pump out, chlorinated (floridated) and used for drinking water.

    This is the way of the future – I just wish Boise’s treatment plant could harvest water in the same way.

    Pretty soon we’re all going to be sporting shit-eatin’ grins 😉

    EDITOR NOTE–George is correct with regard to the water. The sludge from the “pump and dump”
    is NOT treated, hence the need to properly (and legally) dispose of it.

  12. Wait a minute! I have read some very intelligent, informed positions and viewpoints here. Do ANY of you REALLY believe that team Dave, nor the County, actually knew nothing about this little deal??? C’MON, we are being HAD!!! If we stand for this, we will deserve whatever we get from now on!!

  13. Why do people seem surprised by this? Developers constantly dump on everybody who already lives in the area, a few tons more sh-t is certainly nothing new.
    Boise has a good system — and is determined to enlarge the city until that system can’t handle all of Boiseans’ flushing toilets, When that time comes, then it will have to refuse to accept any more from the freeloaders who don’t create their own systems. Then what? Build a high wall around Avimor and just let the overflow fill the development? Or tell the residents they’ll just have to drive into Boise and use the restroom in a restaurant or gas station every time they have to go?
    Oh, wait, excuse me; I’m thinking ahead, and that is something that’s just not acceptable to Boise officials. (Good thing I’m not in Boise at the moment; the cops probably would be charging in the door with guns drawn.)

  14. I think some more reporting is in order. Just because Avimor believes that Boise City will treat the sewage and they’ve sold this concept to the DEQ, does this mean that the City will REALLY treat the sewage?

    I’m not getting that from the article. Did the Public Works sign an MOU or a contract with Avimor that was not approved by the Council? All contracts must be approved by the Council. Is this part of an existing contract with the City of Eagle? If so, what language does the existing contract contain?

    There seems to be a missing piece.

    EDITOR NOTE–We would gladly accept any research you or others have to offer. We had a tip and the DEQ unequivically confirmed the plan. City spokesmouth said no knowledge of the plan at Public Works or elsewhere.

  15. Team Dave may not know anything about this, but I highly doubt it. For the last few years Boise Public Works has been trying to get their NPDES permits for the treatment plants reissued. (The current permits are expired but the requirements are still in effect until a new permit is issued).

    The city is hoping that the new permits will include a separate Biosolids permit that would also allow them to accept MBR sludge at the poop farm. The idea of taking the sludge at the poop farm would be to “treat” the sludge by composting, or drying or one of the other EPA accepted methods. This is part of Team Dave’s master plan for development on the south side of Boise.

    What they are overlooking is that by accepting this type of sludge is that the purpose of the poop farm would change enough that it would most likely require a permit from the county to operate as essentially a treatment facility. Also there would need to be a significant investment in capital equipment and the hiring of more personnel to deal with this added waste. I feel sorry for the farm boys at the poop farm. They are basically farmers right now. Little do they know that they will soon become treatment plant workers.

    If the sludge is sent to the Boise treatment plant Avimor would have to have a pretreatment program that meets the permit requirements which will add significant costs to this disposal method. I also wonder how Avimor will pay for the reduction in growth that Boise can accommodate by the use of their plant.

  16. DEQ is not QED Backwards
    Dec 18, 2007, 9:07 pm

    Curious is right that membrane bio-reactors can do an excellent job if they are operated in a responsible manner. The trouble comes in when you locate them in remote places and operate in a reckless fashion. Did I say Avimor?

    Given Avimor’s record of routinely ignoring safety considerations and ITD’s access requirements to Hwy 55 (Two dead and counting.) one can only imagine what they will do with their sludge when DEQ is not looking. Imagine if they decide to save on gas for the sludge truck, or if the cost of replacing the membrane filters gets a little high. All they have to do is turn the valve and pump the junk down the injection well. No one will know about it until the whole aquifer turns a lovely shade of brown. By then, Avimor LLC will have packed up their money and be long gone.

    Can’t happen you say? Ask Oregon. Ore-Ida Foods did it for about five years at their Ontario plant

  17. The question about whether or not Team Dave knew about it or not is an interesting one. My guess is that they did not. Not because Team Dave didn’t care, but rather because no one asked them.

    The application process for Avimor was very similar to the one for Hammer Flat. In both cases the applicant did little more than state in glowing terms that they were going to use membrane bio reactor treatment plants. Neither applicant had permits in hand from DEQ, or memos of understanding from Boise City or anyone else, when Peavey-Derr, Yzaguirre, and Tilman approved them.

    In the case of Hammer Flat, Skyline Development said of the sludge: “It will be dumped into a trailer type dumpster and hauled to the landfill.”

    My research indicates that Membrane Bio Reactors have to be “sized” for the anticipated load. By that I mean that a plant designed to handle 500 – 700 residences does not work very well at, say, fewer than 200 residences. Below some point MBR plants can better be described as collection and loading facilities for the poop’s trip to Boise’s plant where the real treatment occurs. In the cases of both Avimor and Hammer Flat, there was no discussion by the applicants, no permits from DEQ, and no concern on the part of Ada County as to how the poop would be handled in this intermediate situation.

    In both cases, developments that are/were hailed by the developers and the county as being self contained and self supporting are, in reality, dependent on a variety of city and county facilities and services for their operation.

  18. I may be naive about the whole development process but how do you get permits without having the zoning entitlements in place? That would be akin to getting your deer tag without a valid hunting license.

    Sorry for the comment digression,but this is always brought up and never challenge to the logical progression of the permitting process.

  19. So, where is the Hidden Springs sludge going? And, who is minding the DEQ store?

    I just keep having the feeling that we are going to be had by the developers once again.

  20. Clippityclop
    Dec 19, 2007, 6:47 am

    I suspect that any permitting process dependent upon entitlements is preceeded by at least an MOU. Apparently, this didn’t happen with Boise City for the poop. Hard to imagine, but there you go. Will Avimor now go after the County planners for not making them get this before they were approved? Will the County just come to their senses and realize the whole thing was a bad idea in the first place? Fascinating…
    Maybe at long last this will make the County rethink their approval process. George?

  21. Clancy,

    Sorry for the long post, but this is about as brief an answer as I can piece together. An Idaho Supreme Court case called Fisher v City of Ketchum examined the same issue. The City of Ketchum gave a person permission to build in an avalanche path on the condition that the they get an engineering study of the project that was acceptable to the city engineer. The builder figured it was useless to pay for an engineering study unless he had permission to proceed. Fisher was angry because the engineering study and review by the city engineer took place after the effective approval of the project, and outside the public arena. Fisher thought that, as a citizen and neighbor, he had the right to review and rebut the engineering study in the course of the City’s approval process.

    The Supremes agreed. Quoting from their decision: “The (city) Commission cannot issue findings of fact supporting compliance with its ordinance without the certification of a licensed engineer to the fact that the ordinance’s underlying requirements have been met. Without the certification of the licensed engineer at the public hearings leading to the issuance of the conditional use permit, the interested public has no meaningful chance to comment on the CUP’s impact on community or other facts affecting surrounding property.

    “The Commission’s two-step process of “approval with conditions” prior to granting the CUP, nullifies the importance of the statutory public hearing required under I.C. § 67-6512(b). In the system which exists now, the conditions of the Commission’s “approval” are referred to staff. Staff then makes the decision as to whether the conditions have been met and refers the matter back to the Commission for final granting of the CUP. In doing so there is no chance for public comment on the final granting of the CUP. Idaho Code § 67-6512(e) specifically contemplated that further studies may be ordered but those must be done prior to granting the CUP. Again, the interested parties right to a public hearing is weakened or possibly nullified if those studies are not completed prior to the public hearing.”

    Getting back to the topic at hand, DEQ might be willing to permit the trucking of sludge through town on a continuing basis. However, that does not mean it is the only solution to the problem or one that would be considered acceptable to the general public, or Boise City, if it had been divulged prior to the project’s approval. It would have been much better for everyone involved, the public, the City, probably even Avimor, if the County would have done the right thing and made the applicant acquire all the necessary permits for their intended method of operation before deeming the application complete, holding hearings, and giving it the County’s stamp of approval.

  22. curious george
    Dec 19, 2007, 2:43 pm

    Ensuring the proper progression of permitting should be at the heart of every land use entitlement.

    Mr. Jones is correct regarding the facts surrounding the Fisher v. City of Ketchum — to a point. The City of Ketchum has an ordinance that requires an engineered (and stamped) snow wall design be submitted as part of the bundle of application material. The Supreme Court reversed the City’s (and the Appellate Court’s) decision to grant a land use entitlement to a proposed use, while allowing the required engineering document to be submitted, after the fact, as a condition of approval. The point not being that a simple structural diagram could be open to debate (the laws of physics being the same no matter which side of the bench you sit on) or that the public knew structural engineering better than the licensed engineer hired by the applicant, but that the city HAD to require the document as part of the application material BY ITS OWN RULES. The Supreme Court ruled that the City violated its own entitlement process.

    In such a simple case as a snow wall, for which there are no other state/federal regulatory or oversight agencies, a land use jurisdiction has full discretion to require an engineered document as an application requirement (or even as a condition of approval). But, a sewer treatment facility is a VERY different animal.

    Such a facility requires both an NPDES permit before it can operate (the State of Idaho doesn’t even issue NPDES permits, only the federal EPA Region X office in Seattle does) and an operation permit by DEQ. Both permits are well outside the control of local land use agecies (county or municipal) — and both the EPA and DEQ require that a proposed sewer treatment plant be a permissible land use on the proposed site.

    As such, the onus (and all the risk) rests with a Planned Community developer. Even if the county has granted a rezone to permit the placement of a sewer treatment facility — there’s no guarantee that the EPA or DEQ will issue an operations permit, but both agencies require that such a plant be an allowed use on the land first, as a condition of the their own permits.

    Imagine if the City of Ketchum would have required an engineered & stamped snow wall design (as an application requirement for a land use decision), but there were State and Federal oversight agencies that also required their review of the proposed design before they allowed the engineer to stamp the document — and these agencies having policies that required the City to first approve the land use before they allowed the engineer to stamp the design. This would be a Catch-22 for the landowner — and exectly what Mr. Jones proposes for the permitting of sewer treatment plants (and by extension the review and approval of a Planned Community).

    Treva, as I understand it, the Hidden Spring’s sewer treatment facility is a lagoon-type treatment system — very different than an MBR facility. As such it’s not unlike the sewer treatment plants of many small rural communities in Idaho. This shouldn’t allay any fears about such a system though — Kuna’s now defunct treatment facility was a lagoon configuration that was inundated by too much sewage coming from too much ill-considered development.

  23. Clippityclop
    Dec 19, 2007, 3:28 pm


    Per the Guardian article, the DEQ has been aware of Avimor’s plans for a long time. Are these plans just now a revelation to the County as they apparently are to the City of Boise? It is mindboggling to imagine Avimor/Suncor would make this leap blindly or that the County planners would let this application progress so far without at least some MOU from the agencies involved. Poop, as you wisely point out, is a key issue in sustainable land use planning. What gives?

    I used to worry about Avimor and its impacts. Now I’m pretty convinced it will do itself in… perhaps with help from the County that couldn’t wait to approve it, and Boise City who thought it was a bad idea in the first place.

  24. Sounds to me like we need to get Homeland Security involved. Does anyone know if the Feds have been notified of this pending disaster? Do we need Blackwater to ride shotgun on the poop trucks? What will happen if angry NIMBY environazi Boiseans decide to lay down in front of the Avimor poop trucks on the Eagle Boise border?

    Are we ready and capable of handling a poop spill? Who will pay for it? Should Avimor homes be required to get waterless urinals?

    What we need is a POOP CZAR to keep this crisis from turning into a movement or major blowout.

    Where is “Brownie” when we need him?

  25. Rod in SE Boise
    Dec 19, 2007, 7:44 pm

    This situation is jam packed full of opportunities. If Boise City is truely opposed to this development, it is an opportunity to just say no to treating sewage from Avimor. It is an opportunity for the Mayor to take a principled position as opposed to a political stance.

    It is an opportunity for the Guardian and his supporters, myself included, to stir the pot, and put the glare of the spotlight on Avimor and all the other scams, I mean proposed developments in the foothills north of Eagle and elsewhere around the county.

    But, unfortunately, it is probably also an opportunity for lawyers to make millions over this. When is anyone, anywhere going to do the right thing(s) for the citizens of Boise?

  26. curious george
    Dec 19, 2007, 11:02 pm

    If I were a Planned Community developer (a laughable proposition to anyone who knows me – monkeys are usually paid in bananas and more interested in less ambitious pursuits, like carefree romps through the jungle) I would be having a lot of serious discussions with all the regulatory agencies that could stop my project – Federal, State, and local.

    More to the point, if I were a shareholder in a publicly-traded development company, I would be asking for someone’s head if these kind of discovery-discussions weren’t happening well in advance of any public hearing.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Suncor (who’s developing the Avimor project) started having discussions with the EPA and the state DEQ years ago. But no such agency would ever sign an MOU with a company that would commit them to a course of action without an “actual” project in-hand. A potential project, not yet even entitled by the local land use agency, wouldn’t come close to being “actual”.

    I tend to sympathize with these agencies, with so many real estate projects going belly-up before they ever clear the land use entitlement hurdle — why would they commit agency resources (or even commit to a course of action via an MOU) without requiring an applicant to first prove they have the entitlement? These agencies protect our interests (each and every citizen) by first being careful stewards of their resources — can you imagine what would happen to their workload if every get-rich-quick developer with a “potential” development came to them and demanded they process their permit requests? If we had such a system, we’d be paying a lot more in taxes to pay for staff to review engineering documents for projects that may not even clear the first hurdle.

    To put it another way, you run a race one step at a time — not by jumping to the end and crossing the finish line, and only then going back to run each step of the race. I know there’s a lot of focus on the land use entitlement process, but really it’s only the first step in such a “race”. Requiring a land use applicant to first prove they can “win” such a race before they even run it, is just silly.

    By the way, the EPA has a mandated public comment period prior to issuing any NPDES permit. If any legitimate concern about a potential threat to the public health is risen during this review period, the EPA will not issue an NPDES permit.

    But honestly, I like the idea of a Poop Czar.

  27. George, you almost had me crying. Poor Avimor. Poor DEQ. Poor EPA. Poor Ada County. Don’t have the time or resources to do it right, but do have the time to do it over.

    By the way George, you and the wonks at Ada County may want to read the Fisher Case again. They didn’t overturn Ketchum’s approval of a project because Ketchum failed to follow their own rules. They overturned Ketchum’s approval of the project because Ketchum failed to adhere to the requirements of Idaho Code 67-6512. That bit of code sets the standards that land use bodies such as city and county commissions must follow when hearing applications for development permits. It is also worth noting that the part of IC 67-6512 the Supremes cited calling for the engineering stamp of approval prior to approving development applications makes no exception for studies, permits, etc. that have to come from state or federal agencies.

    Realistically, Ada County, under the division of Development Services Armstrong administration for the promotion of Planned Communities was very self, and developer, serving. They loved to defer to whoever had the lowest standards, even to the point of artificially lowering the standard themselves if necessary. In the case of traffic, Ada County simply deferred to ITD, an agency Avimor routinely ignores, or badgers into approving their access schemes after the fact. Same thing with sewage where they deferred to DEQ and we now have the current mess. They routinely waved the Wildland Urban Fire Interface Standards

    It was a little different with wildlife, particularly with the Hammer Flat application. When Fish and Game failed to cave in to Skyline’s feeble mitigation plan, Ada County hired their own wildlife consultant who was willing to set the hurdle at, Surprise! Surprise!, exactly the point the developer set it.

    Once again, it would have been so much simpler, and better for everyone concerned, even Avimor, if Ada County would have simply taken the time to do it right, and followed the law right from the very beginning.

  28. Does anyone actually know the quantity of sludge that we are talking about? I heard it is equivalent to a 50 gallons at a time.

    By the way since Mr Jones keeps bringing up Hammer Flat into this discussion, maybe he can explain if all 3 plaintiffs still having “standing” in the the appeal. Or does one of them just one of them have unique injury?

  29. curious george
    Dec 20, 2007, 5:08 pm

    Mr. Jones,

    As you so kindly pointed out, Ketchum violated IC 67-6512 — specifically the part that required the city to provide a summary of the proposed action (the consideration of the development) without revealing the engineering design of the snow wall, even though the engineering document was considered a “special report”. The city’s own ordinance obligated the city to require the applicant to submit the document as part of the application packet of material (not Idaho Code).

    When the city approved the development, but only required that the special report be submitted prior to the issuance of a building permit, it violated its own rule. The city ordinance that required the engineered snow wall design, as a pre-approval special report, was enacted under the authority of IC 67-6512. When the city chose to ignor its own rule the Supreme Court determined that it had done so in an attempt to circumvent the very State Law that allowed them to make the rule.

    Idaho’s not a Home Rule State — meaning locals secure their authority to make rules from the State. And, when a local agency violates such local rules, the state consideres it a violation of the State’s authority. Now if Ketchum had never required an application-packet “special report” on the snow wall (a positiona that would also have been legal), it’s absense from the application material (and subsequent addition to the development’s CUP as a condition of approval) would not have violated State Law.

    Having sympathy for a land use developer would be a waste of time, and my comments are not intended to elicit any empathy for such a speculator. I can sometimes take on “wonk-ish” qualities, but this does not mean I’m an advocate for any one jurisdiction — only that the rules should be followed, and not twisted by anyone for their own purposes.

    As this pertains to the Avimor poop-machine, it means that Avimor is subject to Ada County’s rules (as they existed at the time it was approved), and that Ada County is subject to the State’s rules (DEQ’s), and that ultimately the State is subject to the Fed’s rules (EPA).

    Asking for the nature of that relationship to be reversed is an interesting political statement, but not much more. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that you were fairly new to Idaho’s curiously conservative spin on democracy. Your position reminds me of an old Simpson’s episode.

    Mr. Burns: Ironic, isn’t it Smithers. This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That’s democracy for you!

    Smithers: You are noble and poetic in defeat, sir.

    Mr. Jones, this little monkey considers you noble and poetic…

  30. George,

    I readily agree that cities and counties, and the projects they approve, have to comply with state and federal guidelines. Unfortunately, for several reasons, simply complying with their requirements doesn’t mean much.

    First, agencies such as EPA, DEQ, and the Health departments establish minimum standards. Cities and Counties are always free to require higher levels of sanitation, treatment, etc., and there are times when they may want to.

    Second, staffers at the various state and federal agencies are human. They are prone to errors and omissions. Just because they approve something doesn’t mean they got it right.

    Third, just because EPA/DEQ/Etc. are willing to sign off on something doesn’t mean it is publicly acceptable. Decisions associated with the location of sewage related equipment, effluent pipes dumping into the Boise River, and poop dumpsters cruising rush hour traffic is not EPA/DEQ’s long suit.

    Fourth, EPA/DEQ/Etc. are blind to a number of management, operation, ownership, bonding and other considerations critical to the safe long term operation of public service companies.

    The resolution of these and other items clearly benefit if the public is given a chance to review and rebut all aspects of a development prior to approval by the county.

    From about 2004 through early 2007, Ada County routinely allowed decisions on water, sewer, fire, traffic, and other items to be made by other agencies after the county had already granted approval. While the practice may, as George suggests, be deemed legal, I have my doubts. And, even if it is legal, it is certainly not necessary. Nor is it in the public interest. And, that is where the rubber hits my road.

    Any public employee, elected or otherwise, who argues for more secrecy rather than less, or to restrict public involvement in the decision making process when it is clearly beneficial to increase it, is in the wrong line of work.

  31. curious george
    Dec 21, 2007, 12:53 pm

    I agree with Tony Jones regarding where any public servant’s loyalties should lie – always with the public, and always for open and frank discussions about issues of public import.

    I, for one, would like Idaho to take-over the issuance of NPDES permits — which most states already do in order to keep these decisions more local. But until that time comes, to assert that the EPA doesn’t solicit public comments on its draft reports (compiled and published before it grants any such permit) is flat wrong. Just as wrong as asserting that the DEQ or the Health Districts are managed as unaccountable Black Op’s organizations.

    I, for one, did use such a public comment period to put a stop on a proposed treatment facility (right here in Idaho). I availed myself of my right as a private citizen to be heard – and it didn’t require that the entire Local/State/Federal hierarchy be changed to make it happen. Nor did I have to file a lawsuit, or pretend to be a lawyer, or attend endless public meetings, to get it done. Nor, by the way, does the airing of such grievances require some type of special knowledge on the part of an average citizen (and I am such an “average citizen” by any measurement).

    By your writings Mr. Jones, it appears that you’ve been sorely misled by people with ulterior motives. Unfortunately, they appear to have thrown you off your main purpose — I hope they’ve extended their apologies.

    The wheels of government may turn slowly, but that speed is just about right when it comes to carefully considering the implications of something as serious as the location and operation of a sewer treatment facility. The last thing I would want to have happen is an unknowledgeable public planning department rendering a decision on something outside its skill set. I would rather have any approval it might grant for a development have a condition that it first secure approvals for the appropriate oversight agencies before home/commercial building permits are issued.

    Weren’t these conditions added to Avimor and The Cliffs development approvals? But, perhaps this isn’t your point — you just don’t like the decisions, or the way these other agencies implement their oversight. Perhaps you should run for State or Federal office — strike that, you’ve already taken too much bad advice.

    Such is life…

  32. George,

    Perhaps you could explain how the EPA’s after the fact comment period is consistent with the Idaho Supreme Courts statement that interested parties right to a public hearing are weakened or possibly nullified if those studies are not completed prior to the county’s public hearing.


  33. Clippityclop
    Dec 21, 2007, 4:18 pm


    Here’s the thing… The approval of Avimor’s preliminary plats (with the hope that lots o’ unresolved issues will get squared away by conditions of approval) have let Suncor proceed with the installation of infrastructure and the expenditure of a whole lotta bucks. Is the County really going to have the stones to tell them that they can now kiss their final plat (and hence building permits) goodbye because they haven’t satisfied certain conditions like poop handling? I’ll believe it when I see it. Plus, I think this is a completely ridiculous way of both planning and doing business. Here’s a fifty that says it pisses off the public and the developers almost to the same degree.

  34. Hmm are they going to truck the poop to city hall?
    There is plenty there, no-one will be able to tell the difference.

  35. Tom is right. The folks at city hall won’t know the difference because they, like the rich white folks living in Eagle and the future Avimor, think their poop don’t stink. What would happen if Boise could not handle the volume of poop imported from Eagle, and Boise proposed to truck Garden City poop to Eagle? Do Eagleites think Garden City poop stinks? Anyone? Would eagle city council gladly accept our Garden City poop?

    I think they should truck the poop to Canyon County. They might even think it smells good and look at it as an improved nutrient. I mean, check out the herd it comes from. White, healthy , many on organic diets too. Canyon County doesn’t have a problem with polluting our air with their cars. Could be win-win.

  36. John Mitchell
    Dec 27, 2007, 3:11 pm

    My inside sources at Ada County tell me that the City hasn’t been contacted by Avimor re their “bio solids”. The treatment plant now under construction will produce a final effluent which is left is a high quality effluent which they can either land apply under a DEQ land application permit or possible discharge into Dry Creek. BUT WHO would permit that? DEQ or EPA? (Dry ck is not a year round stream; if they did dump it could be a new stream in Ada Cty—“Crap Creek”—stock it with Crappie—-this just goes on and on…….sorry. Anyway, Boise City dumps all their bio solids at their 3500 Acre “farm”at the far south end of Cloverdale road. Avimor could do the same if they had some where to dump it—I doubt if Boise City wants their desicated crap. Actually maybe they can sell it to Zamzows , they’re always looking for good crap to sell; and believe me, this is high end crap.
    Avimor, to dump this stuff , would need a DEQ land app permit.
    The real tragedy is this crap hasn’t been discussed before the solution is in sight….GO Ada County Development Services!!! RAh RAH RAH….

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: