Telluride: New Pandora treatment plant awaiting final state approvals to go online

From The Telluride Daily Planet (Mary Slosson):

The Pandora Water Treatment Plant valves were opened up on Oct. 24 and everything worked, Telluride Public Works Director Paul Ruud said. The plant will not plug into the municipal water supply until a few remaining state certifications are completed, he added. Those final approvals from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will probably be finalized in the new two weeks, Ruud said. Town officials were obligated to have the plant functional by a Nov. 1. deadline.

But the plant works, a fact that Ruud and members of the Telluride Town Council and town staff have heralded this week.

“We’re quite pleased after 20-some years of working on it, we finally have a functional water plant,” Ruud said. “It’s been quite an undertaking. We’re happy to be at the place we are now.”

The facility, located off Bridal Veil Road on the east end of the box canyon, has been under construction for three years. The plant can produce one million gallons of water per day, and has the capacity to be expanded to double that – two million gallons of water per day – if the need ever arises in the future, Ruud said.

“It is our expectation that once the Pandora Water Plant comes online and is functioning as it is designed… we will basically be in a very good position with water for the foreseeable future, possibly the next 50 years,” Ruud said.

City planners realized 20 years ago that neither Corner Creek nor Mill Creek would be sufficient sources of water, Ruud said, especially if the region went into a drought scenario.

“We’re very, very fortunate that our elected officials 20 years ago got the ball rolling. Projects this big take 20 years to accomplish. They had a lot of foresight to start thinking about this way back when,” Ruud added. “For a small town like ourselves, that’s a fairly ambitious undertaking.”

They began working to acquire water rights in the Bridal Veil Basin and converting those rights to municipal water rights. But that effort sometimes caused delays.

After voters approved a $10 million bond in 2005 to fund the construction of the project, it stalled for years as the town and Idarado Mining Company, which owns much of the land and infrastructure involved, tussled over water rights.

Work on the project finally began in earnest in the summer of 2011. In 2013 the town had to add around $4.7 million to the project after a budgetary shortfall.

Now the town will be able to take water out of Blue Lake, Lewis Lake or even Bridal Veil Creek.

The San Miguel Power Association has agreed to purchase electricity generated by a hydropower generator in the treatment plant, Ruud added, so the facility can also contribute to the electrical grid.

“It’s very, very exciting. Anytime a community can take care of some of their really, really important infrastructure needs, it’s a tremendous milestone for the community,” Ruud said.

More infrastructure coverage here.

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