Change in Pueblo West effluent discharge point (to Lake Pueblo) debated

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“State parks’ greatest concern surrounds the public perception of a direct wastewater discharge into the North Marina Cove,” John Geerdes, regional manager for state parks wrote in a letter to Pueblo West officials last week. The public perception could decrease use of the north boat ramp as well as the North Marina Cove, impacting visitation and revenue at the state park, the most heavily used in Colorado, Geerdes said. A lengthy list of other concerns also is addressed in the letter.

Pueblo West wants to change its discharge point for treated sewage from Wild Horse Dry Creek to a gulch behind the Pueblo West Golf Course, about two miles from Lake Pueblo. The $6.5 million project would discharge water that meets state Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines and would allow Pueblo West to fully use its transmountain water rights, said Steve Harrison, Pueblo West utilities director. The metro district is confident its releases into the gulch won’t be detrimental to water quality in Lake Pueblo, noting that Pueblo West also takes its water from the lake and would not want to jeopardize its own supply, Harrison said…

Geerdes said state parks’ concerns include: Long-term effects of nutrient loading in the lake are unknown and create the potential for algae blooms that could affect both wildlife habitat and the appearance of the lake; Increased weed production, including tamarisk, along the drainage in the gulch. The state is asking for assurances that weeds would be controlled; The lack of dilution of water that is released into the gulch; State parks wants a long-term monitoring plan that includes the point of discharge into the reservoir; State parks has a potable water line that crosses the drainage, which could wash out with increased flows.

“State parks requests Pueblo West explore, evaluate and present other alternative options before making any final decision to release water return flows into Golf Course Wash,” Geerdes wrote.

More coverage from The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

Pueblo West is filing an application with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to relocate the discharge site of its wastewater plant from the Arkansas River below Pueblo Dam to Lake Pueblo. The discharge would be of treated water, not wastewater. Currently, the treatment plant discharges water into Pesthouse Gulch and then into the Arkansas River below the dam. The application would change the discharge route into Golf Course Wash, which leads into Lake Pueblo near the North Marina. District Manager Larry Howe-Kerr told the [Pueblo County] commissioners the district would satisfy all of the state’s water quality requirements in making the change.

Commissioners, however, turned down the request for approval, agreeing with county planning staff that the regional water-quality management plan, called a “208 plan” after the pertinent section of state law, needed to be amended first. That process could take six months or longer, according to Kim Headley, the county’s planning director. Howe-Kerr challenged that assessment, saying the regional plan should be modified later, after the state approves the change in the discharge site…

Headley said Lake Pueblo is a major source of drinking water to the region and other communities would want to comment on the Pueblo West application. Amending the 208 plan would require public hearings on the proposed change. After the commissioners voted not to approve Pueblo West’s application to the state, Howe-Kerr said Pueblo West would press ahead with the application anyway with the state’s Water Quality Control Division.

More Pueblo West project coverage here.

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