A civil disagreement between the cities of Kooskia and Stites concerning wastewater disposal has been resolved with a new agreement now in place.

“The new agreement is beneficial to both cities and resolves various related concerns expressed by the parties,” according to a statement released by the City of Kooskia. “We look forward to working with the City of Stites to implement the new agreement.”

The issue concerns an intermunicipal wastewater contract the cities entered into Oct. 9, 2002, for Stites’ waste treatment services through the Kooskia sewage plant. Stites’ wastewater is currently treated through the Kooskia plant, via transfer by a three-mile-long, six-inch diameter pipe located along State Highway 13.

The agreement provided Stites purchase 26.9 percent of plant capacity, and that once its use reached 85 percent of its purchased capacity annually (17,063,750 gallons), Stites would negotiate with Kooskia to purchase additional capacity. The contract had no term, other than it would not terminate prior to 30 years after signing, continuing afterward until both parties mutually agreed.

In a complaint filed June 2018, the City of Kooskia alleged the City of Stites was in breach of contract for exceeding purchased capacity and for not entering negotiations to purchase more. The complaint alleged the contract was illegal as it obligated indebtedness and liability for a period longer than one year without voter approval; and that it was void and unenforceable as it was incomplete and written vaguely, indefinite and with uncertain intent.

According to court documents, the suit was dismissed with prejudice (meaning the plaintiff is barred from bringing an action on the same claim) in Idaho County District Court on Dec. 18, without the award of fees or costs to any party.

“Stites and Kooskia did settle their differences,” according to the City of Kooskia. “As a part of the settlement, the previous agreement with the City of Stites has been discarded, and replaced with a new agreement which complies with Idaho law. The new agreement is a year-to-year agreement, and as such, a vote of the public is not necessary to approve the agreement.”

As part of its compliance, Stites will be installing a flow meter at the Kooskia plant screening room, according to Stites city clerk, Karen Braun.

Explaining the agreement terms, Kooskia’s legal counsel Ron Blewett stated, “Stites has done some work on their sewer line system and assures us that the new work will allow them to stay within purchased capacity. The new contract requires Stites to install a new flow meter at the outlet into Kooskia’s plant, and if Stites does exceed purchased capacity as measured by the flow meter, the new contract calls for a five cent per gallon surcharge.”

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