Durango: City needs to pump $4 million into water and sewer infrastructure


From The Durango Herald (Mary Shinn):

While it is not likely all the projects will make the city’s 2016 budget, Utilities Director Steve Salka on Tuesday made a strong case for many of the maintenance projects to the Durango City Council.

The intakes on both the Florida and the Animas rivers, a foundation piece of the system need to be upgraded. Some of the intakes on the Florida are almost 100 years old.

On the Animas River the city needs to install improvements to ensure enough water flows to the intake.

This intake is located near the Durango Whitewater Park, and the park has exacerbated a problem with the way the water flows through the channel. Right now, not enough water is flowing over the intake, Salka said.

The construction fix for the problem is estimated to cost about $250,000, and the Durango Parks and Recreation Department may contribute $100,000 to the project, he said.

This will help make sure the department is ready to rely more heavily on the Animas River during maintenance on Lemon Reservoir, which stores Florida River water. Work will be ongoing at the reservoir from August of 2016 through 2017, he said.

This likely won’t be the only construction in the Animas next year because the Utilities Department is also planning to replace four of the pipelines that cross beneath the river. These pipes are about 50 years old.

Many of the other projects Salka has planned focus on stainability at water-treatment plant and in other parts of the system.

Some of these projects include better insulation and variable-frequency drive pumps to reduce their demand for electricity.

He would also like to install larger compressors that would help eliminate the need for them to turn on and off constantly; this would address noise complaints from the Hillcrest neighborhood.

Eventually, Salka plans to install a solar garden that would fund the entire plant. But before the solar panels can be installed the La Plata Electric Association must install new equipment, and this project is not currently slated to happen in 2016…

The department will continue replacing water meters again the year by installing 300 new ones.

City crews have replaced 600 meters over the last two years, and it’s had a positive effect on the system.

“My revenue starts going up; we get more water accountability,” Salka said.

In dealing with the sewage system, Salka proposed $1.8 million in upgrades that will needed no matter what decision is made on the wastewater-treatment plant.

Councilors are debating whether to move the plant or renovate it at its current location in Santa Rita Park.

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