Water and Sewer

Water and Sewer Issues

The Avimor Development is planned to include almost 10,000 homes with approximately 24,000 residents in the next 30 years. To give you perspective, Eagle’s population in 2021 was 32,868.

Eagle is also growing in other directions as well including the Spring Valley Development to the west of Avimor, and other subdivisions being added on the farmland surrounding Eagle. Water and sewer are huge concerns for these significant population increases located miles out of the city into the foothills.

Does Avimor have enough water to serve its needs?

They indicated that they did, but, so far, the answer appears to be no. During their June 10, 2021 presentation to Eagle City Council, the water engineer for Avimor disclosed terms of an agreement with Suez Water (done in 2007 for $6M for up to 1200 houses).

Here is some of the history on the water issue: Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) water permits were issued in 2005 for 5 CFS for ground water for municipal services. Permit 63-31966 is for wells near Avimor. They requested an extension on the permit on 1-19-2010 and estimated the cost for the completion to be $7 million. They noted that they were working with United Water to help them get the arsenic out of the water. They requested another extension in March 2015 for the same reasons and costing an additional $265,000. On Dec 31, 2019, IDWR cancelled the permit because Suncor/Avimor failed to respond or show action or request an extension. Here is the location of the material.

Water Permit #63-32061, issued in 2008, is for 5 CFS for groundwater wells in the Big Gulch area which is further west. The last action on this water permit was July 11, 2013 when Avimor requested an extension. It was granted and is in effect until Aug 1, 2023.

So while Avimor stated that they would have enough water for Phase 1 of their development, they are now using Suez Water. Suez is using water from the Redwood Creek Subdivision between Eagle High School and Countryside Estates. This water comes from the Boise Valley Aquifer.

The aquifers under Avimor and the entire Spring Valley Ranch area are the Sandy Hill, Willow Creek, and Northern Margins aquifers. These aquifers are considered hydrologically unexplored per IDWR. There is considerable development planned for the area by Spring Valley (previously M3) so there will be very substantial additional demands for water for future houses.

Does Avimor have arsenic in its wells?

Some test wells were positive for arsenic, with some at higher levels than allowed. Avimor also stated they were trying to remove the arsenic from their water. They later abandoned their water permit. Treatment to remove the arsenic was estimated at $7 million in 2010.

Avimor has three additional water rights; they were most likely purchased or came with the rangeland that they purchased. The rights are used for irrigation only: 63-5386, 63-5387 and 63-18974.

In early years, developer Suncor said it would become an authorized municipal provider and named it Highland Water Company. The process was never completed.

Water permits are not water rights. Permits are issued to drill for water. When water is found,  the amount of water used is measured. IDWR will then issue water rights by how much water is needed or used. They will not issue water rights for more water than is available.

Will Avimor take water from within current Eagle city limits?

Yes. Suez is pumping water from the Treasure Valley Aquifer, likely from Eagle, up to Avimor. All Eagle residents currently get their drinking (potable) water from one of 4 sources: Suez Water (formerly United Water), Eagle Water Company, City of Eagle water, or from wells. Suez Water gets their water from groundwater (wells). Suez does not have wells in Avimor so they take the water from Eagle wells and pipe it up to Avimor. Suez is also in the process of purchasing Eagle Water Company which would give them even more water rights and customers.

Further, it appears that the Eagle City Council is working toward providing Eagle City water to Avimor. See the below paragraph and source, Spring Valley Planning Unit Master Plan #1 Submittal dated Aug. 17, 2012:

“There are ongoing discussions with the City of Eagle and Avimor Development regarding the creation of a comprehensive regional Eagle City water system for the foothills that would connect all developments within the Eagle City foothill service area to the City of Eagle’s existing potable water system. Generally, this system would include a common tank and transmission line that connects to the source wells in Spring Valley and Avimor to the City of Eagle Water system. These discussions are ongoing with City staff and surrounding foothills land owner representatives. In the event the regional foothill potable water system concept is implemented, Spring Valley will participate and alter the PUMP #1 master potable water plan improvements as necessary to be incorporated into the regional potable water system at the appropriate time.”

When a city annexes a development, how is the water issue handled?

As a condition of annexation into the city and/or as a condition of approval of new development within the city, the landowner and/or developer shall:

  1. Secure suitable surface water rights adequate to satisfy all irrigation, aesthetic, amenity, or recreation needs of the proposed development and/or property proposed to be annexed.
  2. Secure suitable ground water rights adequate to satisfy all ground water needs of the proposed development and/or property proposed to be annexed and transfer or assign said water rights to the city for inclusion into the city’s municipal water supply system.
  3. Pay for the city’s costs of construction of municipal supply well(s) necessary to meet the demands of the proposed annexed property and/or new development.

This is a condensed version of what is found in Eagle City Code 6-5-23: Donation of Water Systems to the City.

Are the private wells used in the unincorporated Eagle area running dry?

Shallow wells, less than 100 feet deep, may be running out of water. In general, and depending on the area, the water table is around 100 feet deep. Most wells reach water around 40-50 feet. If the water table is dropping around 6 inches per year, there should be a large supply depending on current use. As an example, 50 feet of water dropping at 6 inches per year would equal 100 years.

How is Avimor handling its sewer?

In 2006/2007 Avimor owner SunCor Idaho, LLC constructed a state-of-the-art wastewater reclamation facility at a cost of $5,080,000. The facility was designed by Pharmer Engineering. Until recently there was not enough sewage to operate the plant so raw sewage was trucked to the Boise treatment facility. With the addition of more houses and commercial buildings, the wastewater facility is now in full operation. Sewer rates are advertised by Avimor at $116.25 per quarter.

Avimor recently announced the sale of the Avimor Water Reclamation Company to Puttman Infrastructure Sewage. Rates for residents under the new ownership have not been advertised.