Telluride: $15 million for the new Pandora water treatment plant

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From the Telluride Daily Planet (Katie Klingsporn):

…with Mill Creek running at the upper reaches of capacity and the town’s growing population, town officials have been working to change that for years, setting their sights instead on the pure, high mountain lakes above Bridal Veil as a source of municipal water. The town has been working to make the Pandora water treatment plant — which would pipe the pure water up there to a plant at the end of the box canyon before dispersing it to town — a reality for most of the decade. Now, it appears that the plan, which was thrown off track by litigation in the past couple years, is on the horizon. The town expects open it up for bids in February and begin construction of Pandora by early this summer. That was the news delivered this week during a presentation to the town by URS Engineer Bill Wemmert, who has been working with the town on the plans for several years. “Slowly but surely we’re getting closer to where we can pull the trigger on construction,” said Town Manager Frank Bell.

Right now, the town relies on Mill Creek and a water treatment plant on Mill Creek Road for its primary source of water, with the Stillwell tunnel as a backup. However, in the early part of the decade a study concluded that during extended lapses of drought, there isn’t adequate raw water to meet Telluride’s demand — and that set the town on a path to create the Pandora system.

As planned, the system will tap water from Blue Lake, Lewis Lake and Mud Lake — pure, deep-blue alpine lakes above Bridal Veil — and carry it down an 11,000-foot pipe that follows the switchbacks of Black Bear Road to the plant, which will be located on a small shelf of land above the Pandora Mill. The plant is designed with the capacity to handle 2 million cubic gallons of water a day, and will be the primary source of drinking water for Telluride. In addition, it will be outfitted with provisions for the installation of a micro-hydro unit capable of creating 250 kilowatts of renewable energy, but Idarado would have to approve installation of the unit. The plant itself will be partially buried in the hillside and obscured by the surrounding vegetation. The water will be filtered through a membrane system and will receive chlorine treatment, but Wemmert said very little chemicals will be used for treating the water.

Though it diverts water from the San Miguel, Bell said it will not affect the watershed. “There aren’t any effects of this plant on downstream users,” he said.

The project also includes the creation of a chemical storage and transfer facility

More water treatment coverage here.

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