JACKSON, Wyo. — Teton County is currently facing water quality issues around Hoback Junction and impairments on Fish and Flat Creeks. Our community has an opportunity to prioritize clean water through the upcoming Special Purpose Excise Tax (SPET).
There are once-in-a-generation funding opportunities now available for clean water. The American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act contain significant funding dedicated to water and wastewater treatment infrastructure.
Two critical initiatives are moving forward toward clean water. Teton County has launched the Water Quality Master Plan in partnership with Protect Our Water Jackson Hole (POWJH) and Teton Conservation District and led by a consulting and engineering team from Trihydro.
The Water Quality Master Plan’s goal is to protect surface water and groundwater resources from future degradation and improves water quality where known degradation is occurring. The plan will focus on the human element of protecting drinking water and the environmental element of protecting water resources. Finally, the plan will identify and characterize known and possible threats to these resources while outlining detailed mitigation strategies.
The Town of Jackson has also taken direct steps to address water quality recently, including a study to evaluate the capacity and expansion of the current sewer and municipal wastewater treatment facility, a stormwater study, and a commitment as a community to prioritize water quality.
We believe the Teton County Commissioners and Town Councilors are listening to public concerns that water quality is an issue and demands solutions.
Despite these critical steps, the real work is yet to come. Now is the time for the public to stay engaged, involved, and educated to ensure the County Commissioners and Town Councilors prioritize water quality in future funding decisions, specifically through the upcoming Special Purpose Excise Tax (SPET) ballot.
Significant energy, effort, and likely expense will be needed to implement the Water Quality Master Plan recommendations. Known problem areas already exist and are becoming listed priorities for implementing the plan. It will be essential to allow re-prioritization as the Water Quality Master Plan progresses. But some priorities include:
- Hoback water and wastewater infrastructure
- Town of Jackson Storm Water Protection
- Kelly centralized water system
- Source Water Protection Plans
- Funds for financial assistance to replace failed or failing septic systems
- Wilson Sewer District Upgrades.
While there are once-in-a-generation funding opportunities, the competition for these Federal funds will be stiff. Water and wastewater infrastructure projects are expensive. To obtain the funding for these priority projects, the Town and the County will need to provide matching funds. Therefore, it is critical that the Town and the County place a Water and Wastewater Implementation measure on the SPET ballot. If this does not happen, the Town and the County could lose out on significant available Federal funding.
This SPET measure will provide matching funds and demonstrate to the State of Wyoming and the Federal Government that Teton County has prioritized water and wastewater initiatives.
Now is not the time to rest but to engage and help the County Commissioners and Town Councilors to determine priorities at this unique confluence of this Water Quality Master Planning effort and once-in-a-lifetime funding opportunities addressing water and wastewater quality.
This SPET measure will allow us to leverage the much-needed funding available now through American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.
Important clean water decisions will determine the future of our water resources. County Commissioners and Town Councilors have the power to ensure clean water is a right for every citizen of Teton County.
We realize that County Commissioners and Town Councilors need to make some hard decisions for the SPET ballot. We know that …
Our community needs affordable housing.
Our community needs need childcare.
Our firefighters need better facilities to protect us.
But, please remember that all of our community members also need clean water.
Call or email the Mayor, Town Council members, and your County Commissioners. Let’s make sure they prioritize clean water for all of our community members.
Meghan Quinn is Executive Director of Protect Our Water Jackson Hole and Brandon Reynolds is Conservation Advocate for Wyoming Outdoor Council