City gets to deal with dissolved solids issue

The City of Yuma is tasked with the challenge of reducing its Total Dissolved Solids in the effluent water that comes out of the wastewater treatment plant.
City staff provided more information to the Yuma City Council during its regular meeting, held virtually last week.

The subject came up as the council was asked to approve a grant for $48,603 from the Water Quality Improvement Fund. City Manager Scott Moore told the council it is the first of several grants the city is pursuing for the mitigation project. (TDS are salts, sugars and whatever else dissolves in water.)
Utility Manager Claude Strait said the city’s permit allows for 400 milligrams of TDS in the water discharged from the wastewater treatment plant. He said the city has been out of compliance since 2008, and received a violation letter last year from the state.
Strait said the state believes Yuma’s elevated TDS level is from people using water softeners.
Therefore, the city submitted a plan to the state about doing a public information campaign, but it was denied. The state has told the city it needs to add a treatment process to take the TDS out of the water.
The total cost to design the process is $475,000. Strait said the city is working on grants over the next two years totaling $658,603, including a little more than $500,000 in grants this year, to cover the design process.
The city’s matching funds will be 30 percent.
Strait said the end result will be another treatment plant at the treatment plant. Options on how to remove the TDS include using a lime softening method that makes a biosolid, or use electrical currents to remove the TDS. There are three to four options. Strait said the state is looking at what process would be the best for Yuma.
Strait also explained that some of the effluent discharged from the wastewater treatment plant leeches down to the aquifer, so a high TDS makes the groundwater supply harder.
The council unanimously approved the grant.

More meeting
• The liquor license renewal for Paper Moon Entertainment was approved unanimously.
• The Orphanage’s art gallery permit also was approved on a 7-0 vote. There are a total of 11 dates on the permit on which The Orphanage can serve beer and wine. Councilman Dan Baucke asked if there was an easier way for the establishment. Owner Rich Birnie, who participated virtually, said the art gallery permit seems to suit his needs.
• A resolution dealing with amendments to the personnel manual was approved. City Attorney Kathryn Sellars explained the amendments are updates to comply with new state laws. She explained changes to sick leave that increases those hours for part-time and seasonal workers. It does not impact full-time employees as they already receive more sick time. There also is a section about identifying reasons for sick leave. There are other sections dealing with public health emergencies, and whistleblower protections.
• The purchase of a transformer for the new Cobblestone Suites location at the west end of town was approved. The cost is $20,806.56 from Western United, and it will be reimbursed by Cobblestone. Speaking of the Cobblestone project, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony March 30.
• Moore told the council that work was about to begin on the fuel farm at the Yuma Municipal Airport. He said the city is realizing $14,000 in savings by doing some of the electrical work. The fuel farm will be located on a grassy patch between the taxiway and the runway.
• All seven council members participated — Mayor Ron Swehla, and councilmembers Marc Shay, Tim McClung, Marylu Smith-Dischner, Daniel Ebersole, Dan Baucke and Steve Hoch.