Water worries

Council doesn't want to impede development

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After hearing five requests for water service that didn't comply with city regulations -- and approving four -- the Craig City Council started the process of re-evaluating its regulations Tuesday night.

It's a move the council has talked about since the first request.

Each time a resident asked for an exemption from the city's water service ordinance, it was because the home to be served didn't sit far enough below the city's water tank or the service line exceeded the city's requirement. The first could mean problems with water pressure and the second could impact the amount of chlorine that makes it to the end of the service line.

Ray and Beth Dubois, Craig residents with plans to build a home on 40 acres west of the Ridgeview subdivision, challenged the requirements -- saying there wasn't sound science backing the city's requirements and that other problems could be mitigated.

The Dubois' requested service to a home that will be 17 feet higher than the 80 feet required by ordinance -- and a 700-foot service line -- 500 feet longer than called for by city ordinance.

Dubois offered several alternatives -- subdividing the property to get more customers on the line, running two lines and using the smaller line until the bigger one is needed, installing a pressure pump or taking full responsibility and ownership of the line until the city decides it's in its best financial interests to claim it.

The city's liability for water quality is at issue and solutions differed. Dubois talked with an official at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment who said the city could install a master meter and be removed from any water quality liability beyond it. City Engineer Bill Earley said the former director of the department told him there was nothing the city could do to remove itself from liability for water quality.

City staff will research liability issues and come to the June 8 meeting with answers.

But the bottom line, Mayor Dave DeRose said, is that the city's current ordinance inhibits growth and development.

"We need to work on making this a developable piece of property," he said. "We need to open some areas of development we don't have open today and I think that will stimulate growth and development."

Several real estate agents attended the meeting to monitor the progress of Dubois' request.

DeRose submitted suggested amendments to the ordinance that included lowering the difference in elevation between the water tank and a house from 80 feet to 65 feet. Residents could tap into the city's water system if they're between 35 feet and 65 feet lower than the tank, but the tap fee would be higher and other restrictions would be imposed.

Residents would hook on knowing in advance that their water pressure could be inadequate and could install a pressure pump if they choose.

"Right now the 80-foot requirement has created a huge hardship on a lot of people," DeRose said.

"Every time we meet we have another Ray, or another man coming before us with an out-of-city water request, so it's time we make a decision."

DeRose's proposed ordinance revision didn't address line length.

Council members gave no indication on their feelings about the proposed changes, asking that information first be obtained on water quality liability issues.

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