As the public is raising its own questions about Grand Targhee Ski Resort expansion, the resort and the U.S. Forest Service are discussing a big expansion issue: building a sewage system to handle a threefold increase in skiers.
That system may cost $2 million to $2.9 million, and the price tag has surprised resort owner Mory Bergmeyer. The resort and the Forest Service are trying to come up with different designs.The sewer system relates to one of the recurring criticisms of Grand Targhee - that the resort is having a negative effect on downstream water quality. That issue, among others, resurfaced Thursday night as about 150 people crowded into Teton High School for a meeting on expansion.
Resort managers met with the Forest Service last week to discuss sewer system options. The resort presented four treatment options but wants to meet with the Forest Service and come up with more alternatives.
"They were going to work on some other options and some numbers," said Lynn Ballard, who's heading the Targhee National Forest's review of the expansion proposal.
The Forest Service doesn't have a preference yet, but doesn't want to administer a sewage lagoon on federal land. If a Grand Targhee land exchange goes through, the Forest Service would want the resort to take over the sewage lagoon.
It may not happen that way. The resort officials said they could build a plant on site, to treat sewage with chemicals. The resort could also build seven miles of sewer line from the resort to a sewage lagoon on private land in the Teton Valley. These options would cost $2.9 million and $2.7 million, respectively.
While taken aback by the cost of a sewer system upgrade, Bergmeyer thinks a solution can be found.
"I think it's a solvable problem, and I think it's a cost of development," he said.