In the community

Nyssa water project nears end

Jim Maret, Nyssa city manager, talks about the city’s new water upgrade. The project – which includes a new water treatment plant – will be finished by the middle of October. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

NYSSA – It was June 2017 and Nyssa City Manager Jim Maret faced a challenge. Charged with overseeing a $5.7 million water project for the city, Maret was searching for a contractor. 

The project attracted one bid.

 “It was way out of what we could pay. So, we put it back out for bid,” said Maret.

The second bid process didn’t generate any better results. 

Maret said he then learned that contractors interested in a project in neighboring Vale were set to meet there at City Hall.

 “So, I drove over. And I stood outside the meeting they were having,” Maret said. “I grabbed every one of them who came out the door.” 

“Some of them had really not known about our project,” said Maret. Maret had three bidders and the project was awarded to T. Bailey, Inc. a Washington state firm. The company also won the Vale job. Fast-forward over a year and Maret is watching the Nyssa water project wrap up.

“For me it’s satisfying because we completed a project that will help the city of Nyssa. And, for the future it gives us more leverage to entice more businesses to come into our community because we will have the water they need,” said Maret.

Work started on the project in August 2017 and will finish next month. The new water upgrade will serve about 1,100 households said Maret and is right on budget. 

 “We have to have it online and running by the end of September, but we don’t anticipate having the building done until mid-October,” said Maret.

The project renovated Nyssa’s water system by replacing worn out pipes in certain sections of town.

A new water treatment plant was built across the Snake River from Nyssa. 

The project was triggered by a new standard from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to drop arsenic levels in the city’s water by a miniscule amount. In 2001, the EPA lowered the arsenic standard from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion.

Maret said water customers won’t taste much difference from the million-dollar project.

“It may taste a little better because of the filtration system. And the arsenic will be mostly gone. But the water will still come down the hill the way it always has,” said Maret.

The new water treatment plan will use a sand filtration system to extract arsenic from the water.

The city used state grants and loans to pay for the work. 

The city raised the fee for the first 1,000 gallons of water by $12 to repay the state loan.

The project was not without its challenges, said Maret, including an initial search to find where all the city water pipes were. 

 “They were not where we thought they’d be,” said Maret. 

Another challenge, Maret said, occurred when crews prepared to refurbish the three-million-gallon water tank that sits above the water treatment plant.

“The floor on the inside of the tank was inspected and we found the floor was not going to work. It was full of holes,” said Maret.

Maret said city officials faced a choice: replace the metal floor completely or find another solution.

“So, we cleaned up the floor, put a fiber barrier down and concreted over the top of that,” said Maret.

Maret said the floor of the tank will now “last forever.”

Maret said he received help from Police Chief Ray Rau, who acted as interim city manager, Nyssa Mayor Ross Ballard and Lynn Findley, then Vale city manager.

“It has been a long process and we’ve learned a lot,” said Rau. “We are set for the next 20 or 30 years. We have more storage capacity and better water than we had in the past.” 

Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.