The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (referred to as CDPHE) believes that our water quality problem is created because we are pumping too much water out of our primary well and that the volume of pumping impedes bank filtration from being able to clean the water sufficiently. This is the first time Greg Levine or I had heard that. CDPHE staff reports they were told that we do that because of a requirement of water rights. We are not sure where this came from and we are currently working with our attorneys as to where this assumption originated. Because of this, they had assumed that we could not fix leaks and improve the problem; we would still have to pump at a rate that is very high.
CDPHE agrees our biggest problem is our downtown infrastructure and the substantial leakage in our system. They are ok with including aggressive leak reduction as part of our water compliance plan which also may make us eligible for additional funds to accomplish our water line replacement plan. If we fix our downtown system and substantially reduce leaks, we will need to pump less water. When we can pump less water, the less expensive solution of bank filtration and UV or some other disinfection method will work to solve our water quality regulatory issue. CDPHE will accept bank filtration and disinfection instead of an expensive treatment plant under that scenario. We will look at another disinfection method besides our current interim method of higher levels of chlorination. They will allow us to delay a solution until we finish our downtown replacement project and aggressive leak program as long as we continue to chlorinate. My recommendation to the BOT will be that we fix our downtown system on an accelerated schedule (two years) starting this fall of 2014 and also to aggressively pursue leak repair in other parts of town both by fixing public water lines and requiring home owners to fix leaks on private property. We hope to reduce the leakage in our system by at least another 50% which will satisfactorily reduce our water pumping rates.
In addition, a public works engineer we have been working with believes that we can fix our wastewater problem for around $20,000, which is $100,000 less than we expected. We will continue to analyze that situation and bring a recommendation to the BOT for wastewater plant improvements when we have a solid plan.
Here is the skeleton water compliance plan I proposed to the state. I am working on getting additional funding and when I have all the information, I’ll be bringing a recommendation on how to proceed to the BOT. Please note that our current water quality is safe, this is a regulatory issue. Also, we will have to continue to raise water rates at what I now believe is a most reasonable level to fund these improvements.
1. Start right away on the bank filtration study according to CDPHE parameters (Greg Levine)
2. Get the downtown water and sewer system replacement project ready to bid for fall 2014 first phase construction. Do the heaviest trafficked streets first as far as budget will allow. We can put all of the $200,000 budgeted for well replacement, our $200,000 EIG grant and $100,000 budgeted for the wastewater treatment plant to do a first phase downtown replacement section in fall of 2014. That way we will do the most trafficked section and get it out of the way while we work on the less trafficked sections in 2015 and 2016. I am working with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and CDPHE to see if we can get additional funds for the fall first phase.
3. Apply for $2 million from Energy impact in August for the second phase in spring of 2015 and do as much leak repair and downtown work as we can. We will have to match this with loan or some other grant at least $750,000. At this point, we could be finished but if not we would wind up all repairs in 2016.
4. Start the CDPHE required Preliminary Engineering Report in order to help secure additional funding.
5. At the conclusion of the downtown replacement project plus aggressive leak repair elsewhere in town, we most likely will reduce our need for water to the point that we do not have to build a treatment plant.
We will be recommending to the BOT that we approach the downtown replacement as a multi-year contract to keep the bids lower.
There are consequences to this approach. We have to notify our citizens that we are in violation every month we don’t have treatment from February 2015 onward until we are completely done meeting our water quality compliance plan requirements (hence, the benefit in accelerating the replacement and leak repair plan). The notices are onerous and we will have to continue to do public education and keep everyone informed so no one misinterprets the notices.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to call me, Leslie Klusmire, Town Manager at 970 944 2444 or email me at: email@example.com.