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City of Wilder says majority of 95 wastewater treatment plant violations were human error

Posted at 9:39 PM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-29 00:16:30-04

WILDER — It's an unpleasant finding, most of Idaho's wastewater treatment plants are not doing their jobs adequately, which results in some safety concerns.

Wilder's Wastewater Treatment Plant had the single most violations in the Treasure Valley. They had 95 violations last year. While that isn't even near the highest in the state, Inkom had the highest at 161, it's still very concerning. Wilder residents are not drinking this water, but it's going on to water corn fields.

The Mayor said step one to fixing the problem, was letting go of the supervisor of the wastewater treatment plant.

"If you don't answer back within so many days, you get hit every day. So 1 violation turns into 30 violations, and that's what was happening. We, somebody that was working here before was not doing his job and wasn't responding," said Mayor of Wilder, Alicia Mora Almazon.

But up until a few months ago, city leaders say they were unaware of that lack of response. They were also unaware that new machinery, including a pump, purchased to help keep this water clean, was not being serviced.

"A machine needs oil to run, and he was like, 'oh, I took care of it.', well, now it's busted, the bearings are busted, there's oil everywhere, so we lost $10,000," said Almazon.

They also lost any shot at a violation-free report in the Idaho Conservation Leagues third annual Wastewater Treatment Plant Performance Evaluation, which resulted in 95 red marks on Wilder's report, and found a list of harmful chemicals in their irrigation water.

"I'm concerned because, you know, I'm a citizen, and we all eat food and we all eat corn, and the water goes into the corn," said Almazon.

But before it goes to water corn, it ends up in one of three ponds at the Wilder Wastewater Treatment Plant to be filtered. But one of those ponds is currently being bypassed after the city found vegetation that could be causing the water to go septic.

"There is ways to clean it and get down there, but it's so bad that we're not gonna go there. It should have been replaced. The whole sand, they're gonna replace everything," said Almazon.

The Mayor believes that pond is a big reason for the harmful chemicals.

"We did have an E. coli, maybe three weeks ago," said Almazon.

But at this point, Mayor Almazon says aeration in the pond is working, and anything that is not working will be replaced within the next few months.

As far as concerns over whether that Wilder corn can be consumed now, Mayor Almazon assured it is now safe to eat.

In order to fix this problem for good in the future, the city is working on a way to bypass the irrigation ditch. So right now they're applying for grants to buy land to which they can send this wastewater, and it can be used to water things like Alfalfa, which would then sit for a few years to ensure it's safe.

Click here to view the full report by the ICL.