Rifle: Planning for something we have no control over

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb): “The treatment plant is costing the city more than $20 million and forced it to raise sewer rates by 105 percent, and now it’s staring at an estimated $44 million price tag for a new water plant. Without outside financial help, that could require raising water rates to $75 a month, city utilities director Charles Stevens said. Both projects were made necessary by city growth that’s been driven largely by natural gas development in the Rifle area. Mayor Keith Lambert said he expects the current drilling slowdown to be temporary. Meanwhile, the city worries about the growth implications if commercial oil shale development fires up on federal land in Rifle’s backyard. ‘We feel like we’re trying to plan for something we have no control over,’ said the city’s attorney, James Neu. The city had hoped it might tap some federal stimulus bill funding for its water plant. But the bill provides only $32 million statewide for water projects, and with 35 other projects ahead of Rifle’s in line, city officials aren’t optimistic.”

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