La Junta: “I think they [CDPHE] make this stuff up as they go along” — Joe Kelley

La Junta back in the day via
La Junta back in the day via

From the La Junta Tribune-Democrat (Bette McFarren):

Director of Water and Wastewater Joe Kelley led off Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Utilities Commissioners. The design review on the new Wastewater Treatment Facility continues. “The State thinks there are more issues that need to be addressed before we can get to construction. I think they make this stuff up as they go along,” said Kelley. He referred to the fact that we have not only secured our loan, but are already in the process of paying it back with a rate increase. In addition, our regional efforts to build the Arkansas Valley Conduit now depend on additional federal legislation to allow the use of revenue from storage accounts to pay for state levels loans. “Without this legislation the AVC may not be financially feasible,” said Kelley.

On a smaller scale, the check valve for aeration blower #1 has been rebuilt and is now operational at the wastewater treatment plant. The water crew installed a new fire hydrant at the corner of Sixth St. and Colorado Ave…

The crew has installed a new primary service for the new Dialysis Center, which included new overhead primary, underground primary, vaults and meter pedestal. Service is ready to be energized.
New automated meters have been installed throughout the city. At the present, we are waiting for the next shipment of meters, said City Manager Rick Klein. Crews are reading meters since we currently have no meter reader.

Snowmass taxpayers asked to approve mill levy for wastewater treatment plant

Wastewater Treatment Process
Wastewater Treatment Process

From The Aspen Times (Jill Beathard):

Ballot measure 5A asks to increase the water district’s debt to $19.85 million, or a monthly tax increase of $1.89 per $100,000 of assessed value. The funds will go toward replacing the district’s current wastewater-treatment plant to comply with new federally mandated guidelines.

No one likes to pay more taxes, especially in a year when Snowmass Village property owners may be asked for more (the fire district is eyeing a new station and is currently weighing how to fund it). But by paying for it this way, the district hopes to avoid having to increase its rates in order to cover the costs.

The changes have to do with nitrogen and phosphorus removal in the treatment plant, district manager Kit Hamby said in a presentation at the April 4 Town Council meeting. Because of a mandate from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Colorado has established new discharge restrictions for sewer plants above a certain capacity, restrictions intended to improve stream quality.

Glenwood Springs-based engineering firm SGM is helping with the design of the new plant, and its current plan repurposes 75 percent of the currently facilities. However, the plant will still be getting a whole new building, and the current facility will have to continue to be operable while the new plant gets built…

Assuming the funding and design process moves forward as planned, construction will start next year and take 18 to 24 months. When asked at the council meeting about traffic impacts, Hamby acknowledged they will be significant…

SGM has estimated the project will cost about $19.8 million, said Joe Farrell, president of the water district board, at the meeting. The alternative to the mill levy is an increase in rates for water district customers, estimated at an 80 percent hike, and the board does not support that, according to a notice sent to voters.

Mayor Markey Butler asked about the penalties involved if the district didn’t move forward with the project. Hamby responded that the state can assess fees of $20,000 a day if it does not comply.

“Quite frankly, we don’t have a choice,” Butler said.

Ballots will go out to all registered voters in the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District over the next week. Completed ballots must be received by 7 p.m. May 3.</blockquote

EPA Announces $3.3 Million in Funding for Water Reuse and Conservation Research/Research will measure health and ecological impacts of water conservation practices

Here’s the release from the Environmental Protection Agency (Cathy Milbourn):

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced funding to five institutions to research human and ecological health impacts associated with water reuse and conservation practices.

“Increasing demand for water resources is putting pressure on the finite supply of drinking water in some areas of the United States,” said Thomas A. Burke, EPA Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “The research announced today will help us manage and make efficient use of the water supply in the long term.”

Water conservation practices that promote water reuse are becoming increasingly important, especially in the western United States, where factors such as climate change, extreme drought, and population growth are decreasing water availability. To help promote sustainable water reuse, this research will evaluate how reclaimed water applications such as drinking water reuse, replenishing groundwater, and irrigation can affect public and ecological health.

EPA announced these grants in conjunction with the White House Water Summit, which was held to raise awareness of water issues and potential solutions in the United States, and to catalyze ideas and actions to help build a sustainable and secure water future through innovative science and technology.

The following institutions received funding through EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program:

Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) Alexandria, Va. to actively identify contaminant hotspots, assess the impact of those hotspots on human and ecological health, and quantify the impact of water reuse and management solutions.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana, Ill. to develop a new framework to understand how adaptive UV and solar-based disinfection systems reduce the persistence of viral pathogens in wastewater for sustainable reuse.

Utah State University, Logan, Utah to assess the impacts and benefits of stormwater harvesting using Managed Aquifer Recharge to develop new water supplies in arid western urban ecosystems.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nev. to quantify microbial risk and compare the sustainability of indirect and direct potable water reuse systems in the United States.

University of California Riverside, Riverside, Calif. to measure levels of contaminants of emerging concern in common vegetables and other food crops irrigated with treated wastewater, and to evaluate human dietary exposure.

More information on these grants is available at:


2016 #coleg: HB16-1256 update #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Lower South Platte River
Lower South Platte River

From The Durango Herald (Peter Marcus):

The bill would require the Colorado Water Conservation Board to study the amount of water that has been delivered over 20 years to Nebraska from the river in excess of the amount allowed under the South Platte River agreement.

The legislation was amended on Monday to require approval from the South Platte Basin Roundtable and Colorado Water Conservation Board before spending the $250,000 on the study.

In addition to studying water leaving the state, it would also examine possible locations for a reservoir along the river between Greeley and Julesburg.

Water officials will report back to lawmakers with findings.

The House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee backed the bill unanimously. It now heads to appropriations, where it is likely to survive, as funding would require approval from the basin roundtable and water board, and the $250,000 would come from existing severance taxes.

“We are depending on Western Slope water to continue to supply the growth on the Front Range, and the water’s just not there,” Brown explained of the intent of the bill…

While the South Platte represents only one basin, it impacts water across the entire state. There are 25 transmountain diversions, meaning water from rural Colorado is used for municipalities along the Front Range.

“Looking at these alternative supplies will help us meet our gap in the future without putting as much demand and pressures for additional supplies,” said Bruce Whitehead, executive director of the Southwestern Water Conservation District.

But the South Platte is only one component on an extensive wish list addressing water problems facing Colorado.

Lawmakers also heard this week about problems involving wastewater treatment facilities that need to be updated and toxic algae growth, such as microcystin, which is a liver toxin. The concern is when people are exposed during recreation.

But overshadowing the concerns is money.

Wastewater treatment facilities need about $4.5 billion and drinking water facilities need over $5 billion over the next 20 years.

“We’ve already said that we don’t have the money to pay for it, so these communities cannot meet those standards – what happens next?” Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, asked members of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, referring to water quality standards.

“This is a tough nut to crack,” responded Barbara Biggs, a member of the commission. “There isn’t funding for the infrastructure, and yet there’s tremendous pressure to protect the environment.”

Snowmass voters asked to approve bond for wastewater upgrade — The Aspen Times

Wastewater Treatment Process
Wastewater Treatment Process

From The Aspen Times (Jill Beathard):

Snowmass water customers will decide in May whether to fund an upgrade of their wastewater treatment plant through a mill levy.

The project, which the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District estimates it needs $19.85 million to complete, must be finished by spring 2020 to comply with new standards for water quality set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The water board decided at its meeting Tuesday to ask voters to approve a bond issue for the debt of the project, which it believes will be less of a burden on its customers than a rate increase.

To bring in the almost $20 million needed without the bond issue, the district would have to hike sewer service fees by about 80 percent, said District Manager Kit Hamby. The exact ballot language that will go before voters in May is being recalculated, but as of now, the district estimates that its tax collections would need to increase to $1.68 million annually.

“As a mill levy, voters can write that off on their taxes, but if we increase service fees, they can’t,” Hamby said. “We’d have to look at a different mechanism to fund this … if we don’t get this approved.”

Broomfield City Council approves $3.7 million wastewater facility expansion — Broomfield Enterprise

Wastewater Treatment Process
Wastewater Treatment Process

From The Broomfield Enterprise (Jennifer Rios):

Broomfield City Council gave the green light for the wastewater treatment facility to seek proposals for expansion to their laboratory and administrative office space.

Councilmembers unanimously passed six consent agenda items Tuesday night without discussion…

The Environmental Services Division in Public Works provides laboratory services to the Water and Wastewater Treatment facilities. The laboratories share staff, space and equipment between the two facilities to comply with all water and wastewater regulations in an efficient and cost effective manner.

“The laboratory at the water treatment facility, constructed in 1997, is adequately seized for the staff and work load,” a memo reads. “The laboratory at the wastewater treatment facility, constructed in 1987, has not been expanded to keep up with the additional staff and work lead increase over the last 28 years.”

The lab was built with work space for two staff member, and does not support the five employees and equipment added since 1987.

Burns & McDonnell, a Denver-based engineering firm, was retained in late 2014 to complete a study for the facility, east of Lowell Boulevard on West 124th Avenue, and determined the existing space was about half of the size that is typical for the staffing and testing performed at the facility.

Construction costs are estimated between $3.7 million to $3.8 million, according to a city memo. That amount is included in the 2016 budget.

State provides $9.4 million for small community wastewater and drinking water system improvements

Here’s the release from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (Meghan Trubee):

Thirty-two drinking water and wastewater systems in small communities throughout Colorado will receive a total of $9.4 million to fund planning, design or construction of public water systems or treatment works necessary for the protection of public health and water quality.

Governmental agencies, nonprofit public water systems and counties representing unincorporated areas with fewer than 5,000 people were eligible to apply for grants up to $850,000. Funding was provided by the state Legislature under Senate Bill 09-165 and SB14-025.

In the event a recipient cannot accept the grant in whole or part, available funds will be distributed per the small communities grant program rules. This list is subject to change based on contract negotiations.


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Three Pueblo communities are among 32 entities receiving $9.4 million in state grants for planning, design or construction of water projects.

The Colorado Department of Health and Public Environment announced the funding this week. It is available to small towns or water systems serving fewer than 5,000 people.

Boone, located east of Pueblo, will receive $850,000, which will be used to upgrade its water system.
The town is looking for an alternative source, because its wells suffer from water quality issues, said Mayor Robert Ferriter.

Rye, located southwest of Pueblo, will get $440,000 for its water system. The town has been improving its water system since 2009, when it was under a boil order.

The Avondale Water and Sanitation District will get $596,057 to make sewer improvements.

“We were happy to get it,” said Bert Potestio, president of the district. The grant will be matched by local funds and used to lift water to treatment lagoons. “We plan to start work as soon as possible.”
Several other area water and sanitation providers also are tabbed to receive funds. They include: Pritchett, $185,000; Manassa, $15,000; La Veta, $850,000; Manzanola, $253,328; Baca Grande Water and Sanitation, $88,300; Costilla County (Garcia Water), $99,816; Sheridan Lake Water Co., $609,568; Patterson Valley Water Co., $150,500; Fowler, $304,355; and Bristol Water and Sanitation, $94,500.