Orchard City: Town officials tour highlights improvements to water system

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From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

Town officials conducted a tour last week to view a new water diversion project, take a look at the water treatment plant, and follow the route of the soon-to-begin and already-paid-for Phase I West Side main transmission line replacement project.

This year’s completion of the relatively inexpensive and modest looking Ward Creek diversion belies the project’s incalculable importance to the town. For a comparatively paltry $49,000 price of construction, permits, and engineering, the town now has an alternative to drawing reserve water supplies from the difficult-to-process irrigation flows of Big Ditch.

In addition to that, the project, as explained by officials, creates the ability to draw town water reserves from the much cleaner water stored in Ward Creek Reservoir and to divert that water directly into a pipeline to the treatment plant.

There is a third benefit to the town from the project. It is by far the biggest and most valuable advantage, while at the same time being completely invisible to unknowing eyes. That is access to Ward Creek reservoir itself. To explain — the most glaring weak link in the town’s water utility system has long been the lack of a raw water reservoir that could supply needs of the town’s water customers when springs dry up during severe drought. Orchard City has never had a raw water storage reservoir for its domestic supply. When the town’s extensive system of springs is producing water normally, there is ample water for town needs. But, in the frightful drought year of 2002, the flow of clean mountain water from Orchard City’s springs dwindled to a trickle. Trustees and staff scrambled trying to beg or borrow any water at all off the Grand Mesa that they could somehow manage to get into their collection system, or the Big Ditch…

Also during the town trustees’ victory tour last week, water utility superintendent Keith Peterson explained the workings of the town’s water treatment plant. The plant’s two filtration cells are sufficient to supply water users’ needs in normal, day-to-day operations. But, the plant was constructed in 1999 and 2000 with an eye to the future and was built to house two additional filtration cells, doubling the plant’s capacity, if ever needed.

Trustees also got a look at the two one-million-gallon storage tanks at the treatment plant site that will be the beginning of the soon-to-begin, seven-mile-long, $2-plus million West Side Main transmission line project. With an expectation that work will be able to begin in September, the 12-inch-diameter pressurized water line will follow a course across country and along road rights-of-way directly south to connect with the town’s storage tank at Eckert on Happy Hollow Road.

More Gunnison River Basin coverage here.

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