HB 15-1778: Dewatering grant applications moving forward — The Sterling Journal-Advocate

Map of the South Platte River alluvial aquifer subregions -- Colorado Water Conservation Board via the Colorado Water Institute
Map of the South Platte River alluvial aquifer subregions — Colorado Water Conservation Board via the Colorado Water Institute

From the Sterling Journal-Advocate (Callie Jones):

The Logan County Commissioners heard an update on the dewatering grant Country Club Hills and Pawnee Ridge subdivisions are applying for during a work session Tuesday. Geologist Alan Horn spoke about how the funds will be used and the timeline for submitting the grant applications. The county is acting as a fiscal agent for the grant funds.

The grant program came about when House Bill 15-1778 was signed into law by the governor last year. The bill authorizes the Colorado Water Conservation Board, in collaboration with the State Engineer, to administer a grant program for emergency dewatering of areas in and around Gilcrest and Sterling.

Horn explained each subdivision will submit its own separate grant application, because the issues in each subdivision are different.

A total of $580,000 in grant funding is available for Sterling and Gilcrest, $290,000 for each fiscal year, 2016 and 2017.

“What I feel like would be the best way to approach this would be to try to get something as quickly as possible that could provide immediate relief for these residents in these areas,” Horn said, explaining they would like to start with temporary pipelines laying on the ground, then in the second fiscal year they could apply for funding “that would be sufficient to come out and do the excavation and bury these pipelines.”

In the Pawnee Ridge Subdivision, there are two locations that have been having trouble with high water conditions, Dakota Road and Westwood Drive, near the intersection of Westwood and Summit Drive.

Horn said on Dakota Road what he would like to do is put in a temporary pipeline and take the St. John dewatering well and a dewatering well next door, on Gene Thim’s property, manifold them together and then pump the water up so that it would discharge into the drainage and drain down into the Gentz pond, which is a natural drainage, and then the water would be bypassed on down to the river. When the water level drops work would be done to make the pipeline permanent.

Both wells will pump a total of about 400 gallons a minute.

In the Westwood area there only a couple of houses that have typically been having issues, so he would like to excavate and install a subsurface drain, which would go along Westwood Drive and would have a couple of laterals going up into the property at 18188 Westwood Dr. Horn said the homeowner, Michael Negley, installed a temporary drain several years ago when problems were real bad. Grant funds will be used to install it at a deeper level and “do a little more professional job.”

The PRN 3 well is being used to monitor the water conditions there. Horn noted as of early December the water was only about half a foot below ground surface at that well.

Water from the subsurface drain will make its way to a swell that goes into the Springdale Ditch. Horn estimated there will be no more than 50 to 100 gallons a minute draining out of this area once the drain is installed. He told the commissioners he doesn’t anticipate any damage to property.

Horn brought right of way applications for both Dakota Road and Westwood Drive. Rocky Samber asked if fees are being paid through the grant. Horn wanted to know if the county could waive those fees, which would be $100 to $200 each, because it would be helpful to the project funding availability and the CWCB looks favorably toward applicants that put forth some kind of services or funds. Samber asked if the county in the past has exempted permit fees; Horn said he believes they have.

The commissioners did not make a decision.

For the Country Club Hills Subdivision, all work will take place on public land that is being held in trust by the county, which requires a permit from the county. Horn explained they would like to excavate and install a concrete sump with an inlet structure to the little pond that’s by Cottonwood Lane. Then via a temporary pipeline to begin with — which would be made permanent later — the water would be pumped under Forest Road, under Cottonwood Lane and over to the Springdale Ditch.

He said Springdale Ditch has agreed in principal to work them on this and allow this water to be discharged to their ditch and then conveyed back to the river. Horn pointed out the good news is the water doesn’t seem to be rising as much in Country Club Hills as it is in Pawnee Ridge, so hopefully there will be some extra time to get the agreement with Springdale Ditch in place.

The pipeline will be for to six inches and will pump about 100 gallons a minute.

There was a question about who will pay for the power. The first couple of years it will be paid for by the grant funding and Scott Szabo, a resident of the subdivision, has said that he will pay for the power for future dewatering issues. Horn said there may be other residents that would be amenable to joining with him to help pay for the power.

Dave Donaldson asked if Gilcrest is more prepared to move forward than Sterling. Horn said Gilcrest has already received some funds, $80,000 or $90,000, but they’re running into some difficulties that are preventing them from expending the funds that have already been awarded. He is confident there will be enough funds for Sterling.

Horn said he hopes to have a draft application for the CWCB to review finished by the end of January. On Feb. 17 the South Platte Groundwater Basin Technical Committee will be meeting and will review the applications and pass them on to the CWCB, which will review them in mid-March. Funding should be available in mid-April.

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