Nyssa water project moves ahead

By Pat Caldwell

The Enterprise

NYSSA — The city’s project to build a new water treatment facility is half done and officials are now waiting for a series of new bids to finish the venture.

The $7 million project will drop arsenic levels in the city’s water by a miniscule amount but is required after the Environmental Protection Agency lowered its baseline standard for the mineral 16 years ago.

In 2001 the Environmental Protection Agency lowered the arsenic standard – then set at 50 parts per billion – to 10 parts per billion.

“We were sitting at about 12 or 13 parts per billion so we were not in compliance with federal standards. But we had a window of time to do so. So we’ve been working on not only getting grants but loans to get enough money to put the project in,” said Jim Maret, Nyssa city manager.

The first phase is done and included infrastructure work, such as new water lines and water hydrants, on the Oregon side of the Snake River. The second phase will be the construction of a new water treatment plant just across the river in Idaho, said Maret.

The plant will be situated on the Idaho side because that is where the city’s water storage tanks are.

“It is kind of a central location,” Maret said.

While the first phase is complete, Maret said the city is waiting on the return of bids from contractors for the Idaho project.

This is the third time the city has sought bids for this work, opting to try again to stay within budget. Bids are due June 8.

The second phase, said Maret, will cost between $5 and $5 ½ million. Grants and loans to finance the project come from Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency.

The new water treatment plant, said Maret, will be situated just across the Snake River Bridge in Nyssa near the Snake River. Nyssa draws its drinking water from a series of wells.

The new facility will “not be huge but you’ll know it is there” Maret said and contain an office for the city’s water treatment engineer.

The treatment plant will use a green sand filtration system to remove the arsenic. The system uses tiny amounts of ferric chloride to bind to the arsenic, which is then caught in the sand filters.