City plans for future water needs

Public works director says time has come for plant improvements

Craig has outgrown its water treatment plant, and the city is planning for major improvements at the facility this summer.

Craig Public Works Director Bill Earley said the city has been watching the situation for years and that the time has come for improvements that will increase the plant's output to 9 million gallons a day. The plant is capable of producing 6 million gallons of drinking water a day, and output is just meeting the demands of the city, Earley said.

"This plant was built in '81 or '82," he said.

The city has made improvements through the years, but 25 years is a long time without a major expansion, Earley said.

Earley said the proposed $7.5 million expansion is needed to ensure that the plant can produce enough water for population growth.

Plans call for a new pump station and new filter units at the existing building, as well as improvements to upgrade the clarifier to a new system that can best handle the frequently changing nature of the Yampa River, the source of the city's water, Earley said.

The river changes its characteristics seasonally, from cold and clear in the winter to cold and dirty in the spring. In the summer, the river is warm and contains algae. The new system is expected to better handle those varying conditions, Earley said.

Last year, Craig received a $275,000 grant for the design of the water treatment plant. The city will match that amount with money from the water fund.

A $1 million grant from the Department of Local Affairs also is part of the project financing, and the rest is expected to come through a low-interest loan.

Earley said he didn't expect residents to experience interruptions in service while the new system is brought on line next winter.

Officials will take comments from residents at a City Council public hearing March 28.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031 ext.207 or at dolsen@craigdailypress.com

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