Same stuff, different day


January 26, 2023

Nanette Blake from Farmhouse Blooms brought over some newspaper pages she found under the flooring of the house she recently purchased in Thompson Falls. One of the newspapers was the November 10, 1911, issue of The Sanders County Ledger.

On the front page in November 1911 was an article about the proposed sewer system in Thompson Falls. “This arrangement would bring one discharge pipe down Columbia street to the river draining blocks Nos. 3 and 4; the other discharge pipe going to the river on Ferry street and draining blocks Nos. 5 and 6. … The amount of pipe necessary figures about 1025 feet with 435 feet to boxing at the end of discharge pipes extending into the river, the latter for obviating any loss of sewer pipe at such time as the big power dam raises the water.”

More than 110 years ago, the city was planning for a community wastewater system. More than a century later, we are still in the planning stages of a sewer system. Hopefully before this decade is up, we’ll have a completed sewer system and all the properties will be connected.

Throughout the more recent years of planning, questions have been raised about whether any wastewater seeps into the groundwater or into the river. There has been no evidence to prove or disprove that groundwater has been affected by wastewater, but those original plans in the early 20th century make it pretty obvious what the plan was for the sewage.

Yes, the sewer system is a financial burden on residents. The street on which I live was recently annexed in order to be connected to the sewer system. I’m worried about the additional taxes and the connection fees. I worry for my elderly neighbors on fixed incomes.

However, the benefits of the sewer system outweigh the risks. A solid plan ensures that future generations will get to enjoy our beautiful river and recreational opportunities.If completed responsibly and intelligently, future residents will also benefit from having a wastewater system with room for growth.

The conversation around whether to expand the wastewater system has been around for decades, as is obvious from the 1911 Ledger. The decision has been made, so as a community, let us not wait another century to take advantage of the technology and infrastructure we have right now.

— Annie Wooden


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