Palmer Lake: Wrestling with surface water treatment funding

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Here’s an update on Palmer Lake’s search for a funding and supply solution, from Nicole Chillino writing for the Tri-Lakes Tribune. From the article:

“The existing plant is not producing water at the rate it was originally designed for,” said Paul Gilbert, with Tetra Tech Rmc Inc., a consulting and engineering firm. “Not only can we increase the capacity, we can increase the ease of running the plant, and we can more easily achieve drinking water standards.” The surface water is the town’s cheapest water, whereas the well water is more expensive to pump and process. Currently the town can utilize the deep wells to a greater extent, which are more expensive, or it can fix the plant, Gilbert said. The town could probably Band-Aid for a few years, but in the meantime costs would escalate significantly for both running the water system and constructing the plant later…

Tetra Tech looked at three alternatives to funding the filter plant, he said. The recommended option is a microfiltration system that can fit in the town’s existing building, he said. The system would have the capability of processing 500 gallons per minute, currently only 250-300 gallons per minute can be processed for short periods of time in the plant. The town’s senior water right is 400 gallons per minute, so there will be times the town can use its junior water rights for more, but the 400 gallons per minute will be comfortably covered, Gilbert said. To fund the plant, the team from Tetra Tech looked at several options including using the stimulus money that might become available to the state, but this would not be guaranteed money, said Linda Firth. Furthermore, the treatment plant project has to be ready by the end of September this year to get the money if it materializes…

Firth suggested the town go for revolving fund money, which has a low interest rate and the town is already in line for. The project will cost $1.8 million to $1.9 million for totally new internal pieces to the plant, Gilbert said. If there is any money left over, there are plenty of pipelines that need to be replaced. The new treatment units cannot handle the pressure from the gravity to the treatment plant, so it would need to be reduced on the way in and pumped on the way out, Gilbert said. The primary ongoing cost will be the tubes within the filter membranes, which will need to be replaced every 7-10 years, he said, but the cost will be comparable to that of replacing the media in a sand filter.

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