PAWSD discusses 2018 preliminary budget

From The Pagosa Sun (Chris Mannara):

[The budget was] presented to the board of the Pagosa Area Water Sanitation District (PAWSD) on Sept. 21.

The PAWSD budget includes four funds: a general, debt service, water enterprise and wastewater enterprise.

In a follow-up phone call with The SUN, Business Services Manager Shellie Peterson explained some of the larger changes for each portion of the budget…

Water enterprise fund

There were also a few notable proposed changes to the water enterprise fund.

“There are a lot of similarities to the water fund and the wastewater fund,” she said.

Both are proprietary funds, she explained.

“These are supposed to be run as you would a private business, meaning that the amount that you charge for service charges in all of your different revenues, ideally, should cover all of your related operating expenses and your capital expenditures and the debt service that’s involved with the enterprise funds,” she said.

Peterson noted that PAWSD can transfer from the general fund up to 9.99 percent of a funds’ revenues.

“So in doing that in a small way we’re subsidizing the enterprise funds with a little bit of tax dollars,” she said.

Capital projects was also included on the water enterprise fund as having a projected negative 35 percent change for 2018.

This projected change would move the capital projects budget from $428,211 in 2017 to $279,890 in 2018.

According to the draft budget summary sheet, there is a distinct decrease in capital expenditures, but many of the decreases are off- set by “increases in major mainte- nance item expenditures.”

“We’re projecting to spend less on capital next year,” she said.

In an email to The SUN Peterson explained that the reason for spending less on capital is that some years present a bigger need for capital projects than others.

“There really is not a ‘why’ to capital spending. Some years present the need for major new construction or processes more so than others,” Peterson wrote.

Water loss was also listed as a larger maintenance item in the draft budget.

“During the restructuring of the Colorado Water Conservation Board loan for the Dry Gulch prop- erty, a commitment was made to spend $125,000 per year on water line replacement or repairs to re- duce water loss,” she wrote.

Peterson noted that the water line replacement or repairs are not capital expenditures.

“They will not be capitalized and depreciated over a useful life,” she wrote.
The next big capital project will be the installation of ultraviolet disinfection at the San Juan Water Treatment Plant.

“That work is being engineered this year, dirt work, excavation will be started next year, and the UV project itself will be bid out in 2019,” she wrote.

The ending fund balance for the water enterprise fund is projected to have a 12 percent increase.

This would raise the balance up from $5,061,503 in 2017 to $5,666,128 in 2018.

“That’s saying if everything went exactly according to this formula I would have just over $5 million at the end of 2017, in this fund, and then yet I’m projecting to have a 12 percent increase in that ending fund balance,” she explained.

Why the fund balance is going to go up involves a few things, Pe- terson noted.

“Part of the reason that the fund balance is going to go up is because my revenues are going to go up just a titch, but my expenses are going to go up too, just a little bit,” she said.

Wastewater enterprise fund

Peterson explained that the wastewater enterprise fund and the water enterprise fund work in the same way, but offer different services.

“They operate identically other than the fact that they provide two completely different services,” Peterson said.

The majority of revenue that the wastewater fund receives is from the minimum monthly ser- vice charge for wastewater, she explained.

“The wastewater fund is less complicated because it’s a flat rate, everyone who is connected to Pagosa Area Water sewer is paying $32 per equivalent unit,” she said. The wastewater fund’s revenue is easier to determine because it doesn’t have a oating volumetric rate that the water enterprise fund has, Peterson noted.

Two of the bigger proposed percentage changes within the wastewater enterprise fund were wastewater collection and capital projects.

Wastewater revenue is projected to increase by 42 percent for 2018. The potential increase would move wastewater’s budget of $458,300 in 2017 to $652,935 in
2018.

“It means we are expecting our expenses to be higher in that department,” she said.

Collection of wastewater in- volves everything that happens in the collection system, the pipes underground, to bringing the sewage to the sewer plant, Peterson explained.

“We expect to go out to bid on $200,000 basis to have a commer- cial sewer line cleaning service come in,” she said.

The company responsible for the line cleaning would spray the sewer lines clean, and install cameras and create tapes from the cameras, Peterson explained.

With these tapes, PAWSD could see any potential problems within the sewer line, she explained.

Right now PAWSD is using local firm, Pagosa Rooter, to clean its sewer lines.

“They just aren’t able to televise for us, but we’ve been doing cleaning that way,” she said.

The problem for PAWSD is that it is harder to have larger firms come to Pagosa Springs because they won’t mobilize for that small amount of work.

“That’s the lion share of why that budget is going to increase,” Peterson said.

Another reason for the increase for wastewater revenue is having lift station rehab at lift station 21 and lift station 7, Peterson ex- plained.

Capital projects was again listed under this section of the budget.

Capital projects is proposed to have a 59 percent decrease in the proposed budget, from $371,525 in 2017 to $153,320 in 2018.

“In the capital department, we just have less being forecast, really where the big dollars are this year is more in the maintenance line,” Peterson said.

Both the water and wastewater funds stay at close to the same level of total expenditures, but the weighting is changed for this year, she said.

City of Greeley 2018 budget

Greeley in 1870 via Denver Public Library http://photoswest.org/cgi-bin/imager?10009071+X-9071

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

The council will officially vote on the $367 million budget Oct. 17…

The city has a variety of construction projects on the horizon for 2018, but none are more costly than those projects related to water.

Greeley’s portion of a new reservoir will cost $38.2 million, and the city will spend $44.4 million to renovate the Bellvue Water Treatment Plant near the mouth of the Poudre Canyon. Bellvue has been in operation one way or another for more than 100 years.

Water-related projects often are paid for through municipal bonds, and the city’s water department is allowed to take on the debt without a vote of the residents because it is an enterprise fund and can charge more for services to pay down the debt.

Eagle: Officials meet to discuss need, financing for new water treatment plant

Eagle circa 2010

From The Vail Daily (Pam Boyd):

Interim Town Manager Tom Boni launched the discussion by noting the proposed Lower Basin Water Treatment Plant, which would be built upstream from the existing Eagle Wastewater Treatment Plant, is the town board’s top priority.

“How do we supply reliable water to the town of Eagle now and into the future?” Boni said.

Boni said discussions about the plan construction actually began 10 years ago, when the town realized it was approaching capacity at its existing 4.3 million-gallons-per-day water plant during the summer months when residents water their lawns and landscaping. Usage during the summer brings the plant operations to 80 percent of capacity.

WHAT ABOUT CONSERVATION?

Chris Lehrman, consulting engineer with SGM of Glenwood Springs, has been working with the town on the plant project. He noted the new facility has been planned so that it can expand to treat as much as 5 million gallons per day, but the initial operation would be at the 2.5 million-gallon-per-day level.

“One of the comments we had seen over the past few months is, ‘Can we put off this new plant with conservation?'” Lehrman said.

He said the short answer is no.

Lehrman explained that Eagle already has engaged a number of conservation efforts, including improvements to its water-delivery system to prevent leaks and institution of summertime watering restrictions. But he said Eagle cannot solve its long-term water needs through conservation alone.

While the capacity issue is one of the driving needs for the new plant, according to Lehrman, the town’s system also lacks redundancy — the ability to find alternate ways to deliver water in the event of a break in one part of the delivery system. Part of the new plant design would address that issue.

As for the location of the plant, Eagle doesn’t have the water rights it would need to expand the existing water plan located up the Brush Creek Valley.

@SenBennetCO, et al., introduce Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2017

During mining (top), the water table is often lowered to access ore, exposing the rock to oxygen and creating acid mine drainage. Sealing off a mine can return the water table to pre-mining levels (bottom), creating anoxic conditions inside the mine and preventing further acidification. Credit: K. Cantner, AGI.

From The Durango Herald (Mia Rupani):

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, along with Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., introduced the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2017 on Tuesday to update the nation’s antiquated hard-rock mining laws.

The bill would reform the General Mining [Act] of 1872 that allows companies to extract minerals such as gold and silver on federal public lands without paying royalties, and while avoiding liability for any environmental damage.

The proposed legislation would help pay for abandoned mine cleanup and prevent future disasters.

Bennet referenced the 2015 Gold King Mine spill that sent an estimated 3 million gallons of heavy-metals laced mine wastewater into the Animas and San Juan rivers in a news release on Tuesday…

If passed, the legislation would make seven primary changes to the General Mining Law of 1872:

  • Require hard-rock mining companies to pay an annual rental payment for claimed public land, similar to other users.
  • Set a royalty rate for new operations of 2 to 5 percent based on the gross income of new production on federal land.
  • Create a Hardrock Minerals Reclamation Fund for abandoned mine cleanup through an abandoned mine reclamation fee of 0.6 percent to 2 percent.
  • Give the secretary of the Interior the authority to grant royalty relief to mining operations based on economic factors.
  • Require an exploration permit and mining operations permit for noncasual mining operations on federal land.
  • Permit states, political subdivisions and Indian tribes to petition the secretary of the Interior to have lands withdrawn from mining.
  • Require an expedited review of areas that may be inappropriate for mining.
  • The bill is supported by leaders throughout Southwest Colorado, including La Plata County Commissioner Julie Westendorff, Durango City Councilor Dean Brookie, San Juan County Commissioner Pete McKay and Trout Unlimited’s Ty Churchwell.

    Little Thompson Water District wins AWWA #Colorado Section taste test

    Map via the Little Thompson Water District

    From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

    Sample No. 5, we’d find out later, was from Little Thompson, and it is this year’s winner, folks.

    Here’s how it went:

    Eight samples are set in front of you on numbered coasters. You’re given a sheet to rate each sample 1-10, with 10 being the best-tasting water on this earth and 1 being the opposite of that.

    Other than that, there wasn’t much in the way of instruction.

    So I briefly tasted each sample, starting at No. 8 and working my way down while making little marks along the way. Then I tasted the ones I marked poorly again, again working my way toward the ones that caught my attention in a good way.

    A final taste of my top three yielded a winner — at least in my book.

    But then there was a final round, then there was a tie, and each of those things caused more water to be consumed and so I can really see now why the folks running the competition recommended a pre-competition restroom break.

    Greeley, which won last year’s competition, didn’t enter this year’s competition. It didn’t have to. Consider it a first-round bye thanks to the city winning the national championship last year.

    Aurora came in second and Louisville took third. Little Thompson will go on to the national competition next, as Greeley attempts to defend its title.

    What’s really in your water? – News on TAP

    Startling social media stories often mislead and take data out of context. Here’s what you can do to stay informed.

    Source: What’s really in your water? – News on TAP

    Wellington water system taste and odor impacted by algae

    Graphic credit Encyclopedia Britannica.

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    From the gravel road that borders the fenced North Poudre Reservoir No. 3, you can’t see the blue-green algae that is to blame for Wellington’s water woes.

    But if you poured yourself a glass from any faucet this summer, you probably tasted and smelled it. Your senses would’ve detected geosmin, the same compound that gives mud and rain-soaked streets that familiar earthy smell.

    In a perfect world, geosmin levels in the town water supply would hover no higher than about 20 parts per trillion parts of water, town administrator Ed Cannon said.

    As of early July, geosmin levels in North Poudre Reservoir No. 3 were about 15 times that. Summer heat invigorates the algae…

    The good news: As of Wednesday, geosmin levels were down to less than 2.5 parts per trillion in the town’s raw water thanks to a copper sulfate treatment on the reservoir, Cannon said.

    While the water tastes better than it did earlier this summer, history shows that the town has a long, expensive fight ahead of it.

    The algae problem isn’t unique to Wellington. Loveland’s Green Ridge Glade Reservoir became a veritable algae garden during last year’s steaming summer, making for earthy, pondlike water similar to what Wellington’s residents are experiencing this year.

    Loveland’s algae hasn’t gone away, but the city invested thousands of dollars in tools to beat it back, including hydrogen peroxide, four reservoir mixers and activated carbon compounds. If those tools aren’t enough, Loveland has a backup plan in the form of plentiful Big Thompson River water rights.

    Wellington’s backup plan is less airtight.

    Three algae-free wells supplement the reservoir water, but their output is limited. The town must draw even more water from the reservoir as its ranks swell and residents use more water on their lawns. That throws off the ratio of algae-free well water to algae-filled reservoir water and makes the stuff coming out of the tap smell and taste worse.

    The algae visits Reservoir No. 3 every summer, like an unwelcome house guest. Town officials say the guest was even more obnoxious this year because it started earlier and bloomed more fiercely.

    “To attack (the algae), we’re going to get extremely aggressive,” Cannon said during an interview at his office in Wellington’s town hall.

    In July, a gang of boats blasted the reservoir with copper sulfate to kill off the algae. They’ll probably have to make the rounds again this summer, Cannon said.

    The town hired additional workers for its water treatment plant and is adding another filtration process to increase the output of its Wilson Well facility, Wellington’s secondary water source. The $400,000 upgrade will supply the town with another 100,000 gallons of algae-free water each day once it comes online by this fall.

    Ashley MacDonald, one of Wellington’s six trustees, said Wellington needs to — and plans to — do two things to truly solve its water problem: Revamp the town water treatment plant and find new water sources…

    “I feel for them,” he said. “I’m dealing with the same issues. I don’t have an answer that’s going to please everybody, other than to make some assurances that we feel the investment we’re making in our water treatment plant will address that.”

    Cannon is referencing a plan to overhaul Wellington’s water treatment facility, which was built when the town was about two-thirds its current size. The upgrade will increase the plant’s capacity so it can treat water for as many as 16,000 residents. It will also make its filtration process more sophisticated so the water tastes better.

    That project is still in its design phase and will take at least 12 to 18 months to finish once Wellington’s trustees approve a game plan, Cannon said. Costs have not yet been projected.

    The other big goal to solve the problem is locking down higher-quality water sources for Wellington. The Board of Trustees hired Denver consulting firm Wright Water Engineers to help them evaluate options, including water from the City of Fort Collins, the East Larimer County Water District, the Poudre River and the Colorado-Big Thompson Project.

    The board will narrow down those options based on cost and efficiency in coming weeks, MacDonald said.

    Water treatment is important, but cities like Fort Collins have better-tasting water primarily because they store it in colder, deeper and higher-altitude reservoirs that are less vulnerable to algae attacks, according to Lisa Rosintoski, customer connections manager at Fort Collins Utilities…

    Wellington’s water doesn’t violate any water quality regulations, according to its most recent round of state tests in 2016. Those tests included tests for copper, lead, chlorine and uranium, among other compounds.

    A state test of raw water in North Poudre Reservoir No. 3 this summer came back absent of microcystin and cylindrospermospin, two compounds sometimes present in algae that are of public health concern.