October 31, 2016
- Kelly Aberasturi
- Gheen Christoffersen
- Tom Dale
- John Evans
- Bob Henry
- Brad Holton
- Nathan Leigh
- Stan Ridgeway
- Joe Stear
- Rick Yzaguirre
Staff and Guests
- Rick Wells, Spectrum Environmental
- Bill Larsen – Treasure Valley Partnership
Gheen welcomed everyone to Homedale.
In regards to the phosphorous trading framework, Brad said he has been attending the Lower Boise Watershed Council meetings. They are getting down to the point where they are looking at the parts that valley participants want to see in the plan. They are to the point where they are talking about what a trading credit is worth. Several of the participants had pretty well drawn out proposals for the group.
John asked if they were still talking about compromising the numbers associated with the Boise deal. Brad said everything is on the table for negotiation and debate. This is one of the first times the EPA has looked at a watershed system that is an irrigation system. They have quite a few trading models from back east, but none that include irrigation type water. We are proposing things that have not been done so far anywhere in the U.S.
There are a lot of things tied either relationally or cause and effect. So if you see some numbers with phosphorous, there is a correlation to other constituents like nitrates.
Tom said, the State finally moved toward primacy, is this coming into place during these discussions. Brad said he has not heard this alluded to once, as primacy completion is outside the window of what is happening with this trading framework.
Bill said it seemed like the group is going away from the idea that you have to have 80% clean up before you can trade. John said he hopes this is the case because this would compromise what has been done with the Boise project. Brad added that because this watershed model is different than anything they (EPA) have done with trading, trading thresholds will probably have to go through several different approval iterations.
Brad and Bill both agreed that the group is not at any point where a letter from us on the trading framework would make any sense. They are still trying to feel their way through watershed differences to other watersheds and how trading might be accomplished.
Criminal Justice Issues
John said there is an emphasis on holding prison populations down. As a result, they have seen a real uptick in violence in his area. The perpetrators of these crimes have been early release types as it relates the Justice Reinvestment Act. He believes that as we deal with the problem of prison populations, we are going to create a problem locally. His police chief has been telling him for over a year that we are going to be dealing with this problem.
Brad asked if there was anything we can do to write a report on the impacts of the Justice Reinvestment Act on local jurisdictions. John and Tom said that it has been just barely a year since this Act was established. John feels we are going to individually have to track what is happening and revisit this issue as the Act has had some more time under its belt.
Tom said they are seeing a problem in Canyon County as well. When someone violates their parole from the State Penitentiary, they don’t go back to the Penitentiary, they go to County jails. This is increasing their costs. Rick added that their volume in Ada County is really high and is almost maxed out.
Tom said they are at capacity. He anticipates there will be a full-blown needs assessment and strategic analysis of their situation. Rick asked if the community could support a bond in light of everything that has happened this last year. Tom said he thinks the awareness of the need is higher than it has ever been, but has no prediction on how a vote may go at this point.
Tom said, from a cursory look, the county needs about 558 beds at the jail. But you have to identify the types of beds they need. 27% of the beds at the Canyon County Jail are medium to high security type beds. 73% of their beds are dormitory types. There is no program space to help with AA or other programs that help with keeping folks from recidivating.
Bill said, along these lines we have had three individuals in the last six months to a year that have recidivated that were under the SAUSA Program. Tom added they have seen this in Canyon County where people have done their time and are coming back.
Tom said he was approached by a gentleman about fairground space out on Canada Road. There is apparently a parcel of ground on the corner of Canada Rd. & Ustick that is being pushed as fairground space for both Canyon and Ada Counties. Rick said he has heard this proposal along with many others. Before the economy tanked, they had had discussions about having both county fairs out near the Idaho Center. As this was discussed, there was no interest from Ada County Folks or Canyon County folks for having a combined facility. Many in attendance felt this is an idea that might take root as the population continues to grow in the valley.
DEQ Environmental Review Policies
Bill introduced Rick Wells with Spectrum Environmental. Rick is the gentleman that Garret had mentioned the previous month in regards to the problems they have been having with a theater project in Caldwell.
Rick said, what started this was the City of Caldwell wanted to buy a piece of property but didn’t want to buy an environmental problem. The downtown area has solvents and petroleum’s like a lot of towns do. The question at the start was, is anything they should run away from as it relates to this one piece of property? They went through some testing and the lab results revealed that it was conducive to go forward with the purchase of the property. The risk, they felt was manageable.
So they bought the property and the people that were going to take over the property wanted to have what is called a “no further action” letter. This is the underlying problem in that banks want this letter that historically DEQ has provided that says you have met minimum criteria. The developer said they want something from DEQ. DEQ said they can’t get you this letter right now because they have this policy that says, in order for them to provide this letter, they need to be involved from the start.
This is problematic, in the real estate world if you want to buy a property and you find something, and you tell DEQ, you are liable. What they found is, he talked to the person at DEQ that he normally deals with they couldn’t provide the letter because of this policy.
In order to get a letter from DEQ, they have to be involved in some manner. You have to submit a work plan and a quality control plan. They will then look at these plans and did. Then DEQ came back and said they wanted them to go into the voluntary clean-up program.
When you are dealing with a contamination and DEQ, there are three possibilities that you have. There is the voluntary cleanup program, a consent order and what is called the Brownfields program that takes a very long time. They have a policy in place in which DEQ wants to push you into the voluntary program vs. the involuntary program.
If you look at the voluntary cleanup program, the emphasis is to take care of the contamination.
The regulations talk about the different methods of testing. One of the problems, is there is a bias toward different testing methods depending on who you are and which program you are under. So you almost have to know which program you are going to fall under and design your testing according to that program’s preferred methods.
John asked if their policy is differentiated from the rules. Rick said, that it is more a matter of different perspectives from different people. He likes to know who he is dealing with and then craft his material to fit the needs of that person.
In this case, there is nothing (contamination) there, but they need the letter and need to go through the process to get the letter. But they anticipate being kicked out of the voluntary cleanup program without any cleanup which means they can’t get the no further action letter, because they didn’t have any cleanup to do. They are in this catch 22. The reason they aren’t going to give a no further action letter is the property doesn’t need any remediation.
Bill pointed to a handout that included membership dues for the Treasure Valley Partnership. He will be sending out a letter and an invoice in the first week of November.
Bill has been looking at all the fireworks ordinances from the member jurisdictions. At this point, he doesn’t have an analysis, but a cursory look reveals that most of the ordinances look fairly similar. In Wyoming, the State Legislature has allowed local jurisdictions to ban illegal fireworks and they are in effect, in some cases, to way back in 1994.
Brad moved and Bob seconded to approve the minutes and financial report.