Breckenridge puts new water plant on hold after getting $50 million estimate — Summit Daily News

This beautiful pattern emerges in clouds when two different layers of air in the atmosphere are moving at different speeds.  Where the two layers meet, another 'sheer' layer is created that becomes unstable due to the changes in speed. Pictured are Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds recently seen over Colorado Read more:  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
This beautiful pattern emerges in clouds when two different layers of air in the atmosphere are moving at different speeds. Where the two layers meet, another ‘sheer’ layer is created that becomes unstable due to the changes in speed. Pictured are Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds recently seen over Colorado
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From The Summit Daily News (Kallyn Lamb):

During the budget retreat meeting on Oct. 25, the [Breckenridge Town Council] decided to postpone construction on what would be Breck’s second water plant, in favor of getting more information. Bids originally came in for the plant at around $30 million, but increased to $52 million for the official 2017 budget.

“Everybody was fairly shocked at the bid,” said the town’s mayor, Eric Mamula.

Breck’s town manager, Rick Holman, said that cost of construction has been going up continually year after year, which contributed to the increased cost for the project. Until the town gets the new breakdown in mid-January, Holman said the town is in “wait-and-see mode.” He added that it’s difficult to wait on construction projects because predicting costs can be a roll of the dice.

“When you’re spending that kind of money I think that a second opinion is a smart thing for the government to have,” Holman said.

While the water plant is something the town needs to continue providing for ever-increasing local population and tourist demand, Holman said that the town must find a balance between need and cost.

Mamula said that the council is at a standstill, since they can’t make any decisions on how to move forward until they’ve seen the new plan…

Should the town council decide to move forward with the plant after seeing the new plan in January, Holman said that the 2017 budget would have to be amended. The town is looking at ways to fund the plant, but Holman added that there could be a rise in water rates if the town decided to go ahead with construction.

The Gary Roberts Water Treatment Plant, the town’s current water source, does not have the space for expansion, Holman said. The town will still invest in repairing the 50-year-old plant.

Kim Dykstra, the director of communications for the town, said that the age of plant makes it more likely that it could break down.

The Gary Roberts plant was originally constructed in 1971 and receives its water from snow melt from above the Goose Pasture Tarn Reservoir that flows into the Blue River. After expansions in the late ’80s, the plant had the capacity to run 5 million gallons of water daily.

Dykstra said that the idea for a second water plant was first floated after the Hayman Fire in 2002…

A water task force was created in 2011, but it wasn’t until 2013 that the town did an official feasibility study to try to find the best way to address water use. Dykstra said that the town already possesses the water rights that would enable it to build a second plant because of progressive town council decisions that started as early as the 1950s.

The Gary Roberts plant services around 13,000 single-family-home equivalents in Breckenridge. The new plant would add availability for another 2,000, Dykstra said. While permanent residents are the biggest users of water in the town, she said that tourists make up for a big portion of usage as well. An increasing amount of tourists coming to the town, whether it’s for a day trip or longer, means more demand for water.

Dykstra stressed that part of the reason to add the plant now is to get ahead of water demand.

The feasibility study, released in early 2014, recommended that the second plant operate at 3 million gallons a day to meet the projected demand, with the water intake coming from the Blue River near Lake Dillon.

Breckenridge looked at five different properties for construction of the plant and ultimately decided on the McCain property located north of the town along Highway 9. Since it was land the town already owned, and it was close to an established pipeline, it meant fewer initial costs for taxpayers according to Dykstra.

Rifle: Near the end of a long road for Graham Mesa water treatment plant

The water treatment process
The water treatment process

From The Rifle Citizen-Telegram (Ryan Hoffman):

After a decade of debate and two years of construction, the city is nearing the end of construction on the Rifle Regional Water Purification Facility.

The approximately $30 million water treatment plant, consisting of eight above-ground structures on an approximately 5 acre campus, will replace both the Graham Mesa plant and the Beaver Creek plant after it comes online.

As things stand, that will likely occur toward the end of the first quarter of 2017.

“All the support systems have to come on before water can begin to flow, so water will begin to flow, we hope, in January,” Jim Miller, Rifle’s utilities director, said after a tour of the grounds in mid-November. “It will still be several months after that before customers would notice anything.”

Ultimately what Rifle municipal water customers will notice starting this summer, according to Miller, is clearer water with significantly less iron and manganese, which will make it better tasting.

Aside from improved water, completion of the plant will largely close the door on Rifle’s largest capital project ever — a matter that garnered a great deal of attention, and at times scrutiny from community members, over the past 10 years and particularly in the past seven when initial plans were first hatched…

The city decided to switch from the “design-bid-build” approach, opting instead for a “construction manager-general contractor” method.

Later in 2014, the city selected Moltz Construction Inc. as its contractor — a decision that Miller says has been instrumental in progressing the project forward.

That change allowed for flexibility and cost saving measures that, excluding design and consultant fees for the redesigned project, are expected to total $30.5 million, according to Miller’s memo.

Walking through the facilities, Miller says there are a number of cost savings born out of the value engineering that was possible by switching to the construction manager-general contractor approach.

A tank, known as a clean-in-place tank, was initially going to be 6 feet taller, which would have raised the roof of the entire building it’s housed in another 6 feet. The team was able to get a shorter tank that was wider and had the same capacity — effectively keeping the building at the previous height and saving money.

Miller admits that the approach can be confusing at times for those not directly involved on the project, especially with all the numbers and variables involved.

“It may not be the most transparent thing, but it is efficient.”

Along the way, Miller has had to address arguments, such as those suggesting the Graham Mesa plant should have been upgraded, rather than building an entirely new facility from scratch.

The Graham Mesa plant is aging and incapable of meeting certain regulatory standards. Further, it simply does not have the space that would allow for upgrades while having a functional treatment plant — a major flaw in the Graham Mesa plant is the absence of redundancy in the systems.

“They don’t know what they’re talking about,” Miller said of those who argue that the city should have stuck with the Graham Mesa plant.

The new facility will fall just a little short of 8 MGD, much more than the 4 to 5 MGD at Graham Mesa and the ½ MGD at Beaver Creek. Ultimately the plant can be brought to 8 MGD, but some pieces were left out as a cost-saving measure.

Having that flexibility to keep up with population growth is another important feature of the new facility.

CDPHE: Water Quality Information Bulletin

Click here to read the bulletin. There will be an informational briefing concerning Clear Creek at the December 12, 2016 meeting.

Clear Creek, Standley Lake watersheds including the Standley Lake Canal Zone via the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation.
Clear Creek, Standley Lake watersheds including the Standley Lake Canal Zone via the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation.

Wildfire is top threat to Gypsum’s drinking water — Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Town of Gypsum via
Town of Gypsum via

From The Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Pam Boyd):

…a new report prepared by the Colorado Rural Water Association for the town of Gypsum has reminded the community that wildfire impact is the top risk identified for its drinking water system.

Source water specialist Paul Hempel prepared the report for the town.

“People don’t ever think about water safety, really. Water just comes out of the tap,” said Hempel.

But water does come from somewhere, and ensuring the safety of their water sources is a prime concern for municipal providers. Source water assessment and protection came into existence in 1996 as a result of Congressional amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The amendments required each state to develop a source water assessment and protection program. In Colorado, the Water Quality Control Division, an agency of the state Department of Public Health and Environment, assumed the responsibility for conducting the program.

The effort includes four parts:

• Delineating the source water assessment area for each of the drinking water sources.

• Conducting a contaminant source inventory to identify potential sources of contamination within each of the source water assessment areas.

• Conducting a susceptibility analysis to determine the potential susceptibility of each public drinking water source to the different sources of contamination.

• Reporting the results of the source water assessment to the public water systems and the general public.


Gypsum obtains its drinking water from one intake on Mosher Spring and two intakes on Gypsum Creek. The town supplies drinking water to approximately 7,000 residents with 2,791 connections. The average daily demand on the system is 1.23 million gallons, and the average peak demand is 1.43 million gallons.

The Gypsum stakeholder group included representatives from the town, Eagle County, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Gypsum Fire Protection District, the Eagle River Watershed Council and several local landowners.

Through the process, Hempel assisted a steering committee as they categorized the potential course of contamination and issues of concern for the town’s water. The identification noted both the probability of impact from various sources as well as the level of risk they presented.


The study revealed wildfire impact to the upper watershed, located on Forest Service property, was the greatest danger to Gypsum’s water supply. The risk level was categorized as “very high” and the impact to the system was classified as “catastrophic.”

“It is certainly Gypsum’s No. 1 concern” said Hempel.

But the community isn’t unique in this regard. Hempel noted many mountain communities that get water from surface sources identified similar risks and impacts. While it may be a cliche, it is still true that identifying the problem is the first step toward addressing it.

In Gypsum’s case, Hempel said the town needs to complete more soils and slope study for the area around its intakes to determine a defensible space. Defensible space is a familiar term for anyone who lives in wooded mountain areas, and it refers to a series of actions that can lessen the chances of wholesale property loss due to wildfire. These actions include everything from cutting back thick brush to laying down gravel or other material to limit fuels around a structure.

West Fork Fire June 20, 2013 photo the Pike Hot Shots Wildfire Today
West Fork Fire June 20, 2013 photo the Pike Hot Shots Wildfire Today

Widefield Water and Sanitation stops use of contaminated aquifer water — The #Colorado Springs Gazette

Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.
Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

The Widefield Water and Sanitation District became the last major water system to stop using well water from the tainted aquifer, according to the district’s water manager, Brandon Bernard.

As of Nov. 10, all of the district’s customers receive cleaner surface water from the Pueblo Reservoir.

“We’re looking forward to moving forward without having to worry about PFCs,” said Bernard, using an acronym for the toxic chemicals.

The announcement ends one chapter of a water crisis that sent thousands of residents scrambling for bottled water…

The contamination has spawned two class-action lawsuits against companies that manufactured the foam. The Air Force, which found the chemical harmful to laboratory animals as early as the 1970s, also is studying its role in the contamination by drilling several test wells around Peterson Air Force Base…

For months, local water officials raced to limit residents’ exposure to the chemicals, which remain unregulated by the EPA.

Fountain officials shut off their wells in fall 2015 – relying instead on cleaner water from the Pueblo Reservoir. But other water districts couldn’t meet customers’ demands this past summer without using contaminated well water.

Security Water and Sanitation Districts weaned itself from the aquifer in September.

Officials for all three water districts are optimistic that customers will no longer receive contaminated water from the aquifer, unless its cleansed of the toxic chemicals.

Officials in Security and Fountain have previously voiced plans to build treatment plants to filter the fouled water. Water rates there could rise to help finance those projects.

Widefield officials, however, are conducting two test projects to determine whether ion exchange or granular activated carbon filters best remove the chemicals, Bernard said.

Widefield’s test projects, which began in October, are expected to last six months, he said.

The district also is planning a $1 million project to install a pipe under Interstate 25 capable of bringing in more water from the Pueblo Reservoir. Widefield has several thousand acre feet of water stored at the Pueblo Reservoir, and officials there are no longer concerned about running out of water rights this year.

District leaders also plan to meet with Air Force officials on Thursday to coordinate how the military can help filter water. In July, the Air Force vowed to spend $4.3 million to supply bottled water and well water filters for the affected communities.

Unlike other water districts, Widefield is not planning to raise rates in 2017 to pay for the water projects, Bernard said. Rather, they will be paid for using reserve funding.

Customers are only likely to pay for operations costs once a treatment plant is built, he said.

“It’s nice just to not have to worry about our customers being concerned,” Bernard said. “And now we can just move forward with fixing the problem.”

Photo via USAF Air Combat Command
Photo via USAF Air Combat Command

#AnimasRiver: @EPA wants to continue operations at [Cement Creek] water-treatment plant — The Durango Herald

The EPA's wastewater treatment plant near Silverton, Colorado, on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2015 -- photo via Grace Hood Colorado Public Radio
The EPA’s wastewater treatment plant near Silverton, Colorado, on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2015 — photo via Grace Hood Colorado Public Radio

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday it would prefer to continue operations at the temporary water-treatment plant that handles discharges out of the Gold King Mine while the agency continues to evaluate long-term options.

Before the EPA makes that decision final, a public comment period that began Monday will run to Dec. 14.

“As EPA understands more about the hydrology of the area, and how various sources of contamination are affecting water quality, the Agency will consider any number of options, including potential expansion of the IWTP, to address the contamination,” Chris Wardell, of U.S. EPA Region 8, said in a news release.

The second option considered in the report released Monday was to mothball the $1.5 million water-treatment plant, which was built two months after an EPA contracted crew on Aug. 5, 2015, breached the portal of the Gold King Mine, releasing 3 million gallons of mine waste down the Animas River.

The treatment plant’s high cost of operation, as well as the need to deal with the lime-heavy metal sludge by-product, led officials tasked with improving water quality in the Animas River watershed to find other options.

As of last week, the average flow rate into the treatment plant was 712 gallons per minute, and it costs about $16,000 per week to operate.

If EPA, after reviewing public comments, formally decides to continue operations, the agency will move the plant from “emergency removal action” funding to “Non-Time Critical Removal Action,” which falls under the proper Superfund process.

This fall, the EPA officially declared 48-mining sites around Silverton as the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site.

Cement Creek aerial photo -- Jonathan Thompson via Twitter
Cement Creek aerial photo — Jonathan Thompson via Twitter

Telluride: “People don’t want to talk about pipes. It’s just not sexy” — Greg Clifton

Photo via
Photo via

From The Telluride Daily Planet (Justin Criado):

The 2017 General Fund budget is approximately $200,000 more than the current year’s amended budget, with the biggest difference being indirect project costs.

Areas of focus next year will be water and wastewater projects as the city continues to replace outdated water lines, update treatment plant technology, and develop better ways to store and treat water and wastewater.

Water and wastewater projects are covered through separate enterprise funds, which use taxes and service fees to raise capital.

“People don’t want to talk about pipes. It’s just not sexy,” Town Manager Greg Clifton said of the current pipe-replacement project. “But when water doesn’t come out of the faucet, our phones will ring.

“There’s so much work behind the scenes just to make sure water comes out of the faucet.”
For 2017, projected Water Fund revenues are $2.6 million, while projected expenditures are $3.5 million.

The town currently is replacing a 60-year-old pipe along East Colorado Avenue as part of a comprehensive project to revamp the infrastructure.

Plans to replace more pipes around town and the Bridal Veil Basin are in the works for next year, including repairs to pipes that carry water through the Lewis and Blue lakes areas.

“We’re chipping away on these things,” Clifton said. “(Colorado Avenue) was our worst pipe.”

Efforts to improve the water system have been ongoing for some time now, Clifton explained, including construction of the Pandora Water Treatment Plant in 2014.

The Mill Creek Water Treatment Plant is in need of equipment and holding tank updates, which are projected to be $278,500, according to city officials.

A new computer-monitored control panel will be installed to help regulate the lines, and one of the two holding tanks will be relined.

Telluride Public Works Director Paul Ruud explained that water lines need almost constant maintenance.

“I think we’re doing pretty good in that regard, but we do have some differed maintenance,” Ruud said.

Karen Guglielmone, environmental and engineering division manager for the town, explained during a recent budget workshop session that replacing pipes and fixing leaks in the Bridal Veil Basin and surrounding areas is difficult given the potentially treacherous location.

“It’s a hodgepodge of various pipe types. Much of it still has to be replaced,” Guglielmone said. “It’s very dangerous to get up there during avalanche season.”

The projected Wastewater Fund revenues for 2017 are just under $2.3 million, while projected expenditures are $2.8 million.

Treatments to remove chemicals from wastewater will be an area of focus in an effort to comply with new state regulations regarding wastewater care, Clifton said.