Here is the Town's financial dilemma: Before we discovered water well replacement wasn’t going to work, we had planned for $4.37 million worth of urgent work to do over the next few years - $750,000 to replace two wells, $120,000 (budgeted - actual cost not confirmed) to do our required wastewater treatment plan improvements and $3.5 million to do the downtown system which is in critical condition. The plan was to replace one well and do the wastewater treatment improvements this year, and start the downtown work next year and complete it over 2 – 4 years. With grants and loans, we could have done this work with about a 10% increase in current water rates (which I would have proposed stretching out over the next 2-3 years). Since there are ample state grant funds available now, we would accelerate the construction schedule if needed in response to the availability of grant funds.
With this knowledge that well replacement is no longer an option, we now have $5.620 million in critical needs - $2 million for a water treatment plan, $120,000 (budgeted not confirmed) to do our required wastewater treatment plan improvements and $3.5 million to do the downtown system. We may have to do both our water treatment plant and start on our downtown infrastructure replacement this year. If our downtown system fails - and with the increased water/drainage we have experienced this year, I would suspect that possibility is more imminent - the worst case scenario is that we would be without water and/or sewer for the most used area of the Town or all of the Town for days or weeks at the height of tourist season. Repairing the system in response to a failure is much more expensive than systematic planned repair prior to a crisis.
I’m giving you the “big picture” conceptual bad news now and please rest assured that we will continue to aggressively ferret out any better (and less expensive) strategy we can document and get approved by the State of Colorado. We have discussed some strategies with our engineers about approaching CDPHE with different scenarios that are more affordable, including restructuring construction timing in a way that makes sense for our actual problems and funding capacity.
In order to proceed, we have these steps to go through in the next couple of months:
1. Complete at Preliminary Engineering Report (cost about $40,000)
2. Complete a community income survey to document our water customer's median income.
Please feel free to call me or email me with any questions. We are moving quickly to get this resolved. I don’t want to see the town stalled out and missing the opportunity to bring in substantial grant funds to offset the direct costs of these critical infrastructure problems. This is my primary focus for this next two years.