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Stites remains on boil order; temporary fix pending

STITES – The City of Stites heads toward a second month into its water system boil order as it works toward solving a bacterial contamination issue.

And this may mean a trip to the ballot box for city residents this fall.

City Clerk Karen Braun said the city was acquiring a used water retention tank from a southern Idaho municipality for $960, the cost of its removal from the system. For comparison, a new tank, she said, would cost around $18,000. Within the next few weeks, this tank is planned to be installed into the city system to provide adequate water retention time – at least 30 minutes as per the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality – for chlorination.

With this in place, Braun clarified DEQ would be the responsible agency in determining whether to lift the boil order.

“But this is not going to be permanent; this is just a temporary fix,” she said.

Stites has been under a boil order since May 14 when E. coli bacteria was discovered in the city’s deep water well no. 2, which, according to Braun, had been pulled off-line at the time. Subsequent water system testing was positive for coliform bacteria, a precursor to E. coli. She explained the city has been relying on its artesian well for water until recently when summer watering demands necessitated bringing the deep well back online.

According to Braun, the fix currently being looked at is changes to the water system that pumps water into reservoirs first for treatment before going into the system. Currently, water is pumped directly into the system with the remainder then going to the reservoir. The current process, she said, doesn’t provide sufficient retention time for water treatment. Costs for such a fix are undetermined at this point, which will require engineering studies and a search for funding by the city that could entail a bond decision before voters in the Nov. 4 general election.

City water users continue to be advised to boil water prior to it being consumed or used for cleaning. Questions can be directed to city hall at 926-7121.

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