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HEYBURN — The city of Heyburn has filed a civil lawsuit seeking a judge’s approval to move forward with a bond to pay for $12.4 million in work for its wastewater collection system.

A hearing in the case is set at 9 a.m. on Nov. 27 before 5th District Judge Eric J. Wildman at Minidoka County District Court.

A public notice for the meeting was issued so the City Council can attend.

The city originally estimated it would cost $7 million to $8 million to replace its wastewater treatment plant, but costs rose as other engineering studies were completed that included needed upgrades to the rest of the city’s wastewater collection system.

City Administrator Tony Morley said the costs estimates still remain fluid at this point and $12.4 million is a cap — the most the city can issue bonds for but the city does not have to use the full amount.

The city will complete all the upgrades at the wastewater plant first and pay for other expenses related to project and complete as much work on the collection upgrades as the money will allow.

“A lot of it will depend on how much we get in grants,” Morley said.

The city opted to use judicial confirmation to approve the bond after the wastewater facility fell out of compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency and faced fines large enough to bankrupt the city.

Between July 2014 and May 2018, the city had 592 EPA violations.

Under Idaho law the city could ask voters to approve the bond but because of the compliance issue the council felt like the city’s best option was to use judicial confirmation.

If voters failed to approve a bond issue, the city would have had to use the judicial confirmation process anyway.

The judge has to find the need for the money as “ordinary and necessary,” in order for approval, according to court documents.The wastewater plant was built in the 1960s and upgraded in 1991 and 2008.

The collection system has 25 miles of 4- to 8-inch pipelines and 18 lift stations, not including private lift stations and Burley’s industrial lift station.

Work needed at the plant includes installing a new ultraviolet disinfectant system, a screw press dewatering system and an additional clarifier.

Recommended upgrades to the collection system include work at lift stations and the construction of an additional lift station and other structures.

Costs for the plant upgrades are estimated at $6 million and the collection system upgrades are estimated at $6.4 million.

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