In the Jan. 23 edition of the Jordan Independent, the paper published an uninformed editorial by local resident Thom Boncher. As a Jordan City Council member, I felt a duty to set the record straight on the function and purpose for the SW Interceptor, which is nearing completion after five years of efforts.
Currently, there are sewer capacity issues with Jordan’s existing system. Instead of replacing all pipes and upsizing through the core of town — a much more costly and disruptive process — the SW Interceptor is being routed around the city and adding value to areas currently without sewer service.
To relieve pressure placed on the sewer system in lower town Jordan, rerouted flows to the SW Interceptor will enable development atop the bluff to continue while preventing sewer backups in lower town Jordan. The northeast interceptor does not relieve pressure on the SW interceptor; it would be an entirely new service area. Mr. Boncher notes the northeast interceptor would relieve pressure or flow from the SW Interceptor, exemplifying his misunderstanding of Jordan’s long-range planning.
Growth forecasts for the city of Jordan show a population of 12,200 by the year 2040…a relatively short 20 years from now in the context of sanitary sewer pipe ages. The life expectancy of this pipe is at least 100 years. The function of the SW Interceptor is not to serve 30,000 people and 4,500 acres immediately, though that is its ultimate service capacity.
When considering the project years ago, the city was down to only six sewered industrial lots. That number is now down to three — and would soon be down to two — if not for the SW Interceptor. One primary function of the pipe is to provide sanitary sewer service to new areas, such as the commercial/industrial area to the southwest of County Road 9 and north of Highway 169.
Industrial and commercial property generate the highest tax revenue compared to public services needed. Attracting these types of land uses is the most surefire way to reduce taxes in the city. Therefore, the SW Interceptor was necessary if the city wanted to enable future industrial development. While the pipe never guaranteed development would occur, not building it would guarantee it never happens.
The SW Interceptor is the downstream pipe serving a large area of Jordan’s future — not just the current Bridle Creek and Stonebridge developments. The future service area goes well into the townships to the northwest, southwest, and southeast. The SW Interceptor will be like the trunk of a tree, holding up numerous future branches. Unlike a tree though, this trunk will not grow over time — you need to pick how big the future tree will be as you build from the bottom up. Choose incorrectly, and once the branches can’t be supported you will need to effectively chop it down and start over.
Next, let’s pretend no SW Interceptor pipe was installed. Let’s also assume five new developments come to Jordan in the next 20 years. During each of the subsequent five years, 20 or more homes in lower town Jordan get sewer flow filling their basement. Meanwhile, the city has to turn away 10 industrial developments from the unsewered areas, leaving the tax base static. The City Council at that point decides to react to the issue and get the pipe installed. Construction costs are now drastically higher. With easement acquisitions, permitting, and public contracting laws, it takes four years to get the full project constructed and operational. During those years of project development, more events happen where sewer flow goes into more basements in lower town Jordan. Unlike the year 2020, when debt is coming off the sanitary sewer fund, sanitary sewer rates under this scenario now spike upward.
Making a sound decision, by aligning life expectancy of infrastructure with forecasted need, is a core role of government. Despite the occasional criticism from folks like Mr. Boncher, the challenge of doing the right thing has been accepted by the Jordan City Council.