Glenn Duzik performs a computer check at the city of Craig's water treatment plant. Duzik, a plant operator, performs checks throughout the day to ensure the plant is running smoothly.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Glenn Duzik performs a computer check at the city of Craig's water treatment plant. Duzik, a plant operator, performs checks throughout the day to ensure the plant is running smoothly.

$9 million water plant renovation almost complete



The new dissolved-air flotation filtering system at the Craig water plant below the walkway injects millions of air bubbles into water from the Yampa River at the beginning of the treatment cycle. The air bubbles force solids in the water to float to the surface, where a mechanical arm brushes them into a separate containment area.


Plant operator Ed Talkington uses a spectrophotometer to measure the chlorine levels in the water.


The new water filtration system at the Craig water treatment plant filters as much as 12 million gallons a day, as opposed to the old plant's smaller tanks, which capped at a combined six million gallons a day.


The old filtration system at the Craig water treatment plant, which is no longer in use, required plant operators to manually turn valves when they operated the filters.

The city's renovation of its water treatment plant has been, at times, a murky process.

That may all come to an end soon, as City Engineer Bill Earley said the parts to repair the plant's new pump systems are about six weeks from delivery.

"Once that happens, we hope to be able to fully test all our equipment and be up and running," he said.

The Craig City Council approved a roughly $8 million construction project at the plant a few years ago, plus $1 million in design fees to Denver-based engineering firm Tetra Tech, with the intent of doubling the city's capacity for clean drinking water from 6 million gallons to 12 million gallons a day.

Officials hope the project will net enough water output to carry Craig through the next 20 years.

One never can tell, though, Earley said.

"It mostly depends on growth, and right now, that's kind of slowed down to a crawl," he said.

It also depends on what new regulations the state and federal governments pass down for local communities, Earley added.

"More regulations means we have to keep a higher control on the water, which means we can't put as much water out," he said. "We're like shooting at a moving target we can't even see. We're just guessing what the regulations are going to be, and trying to do our best for the citizens of Craig."

It's an endlessly frustrating part of his job.

"That's one of the biggest problems with all this, in my opinion, is that the rules keep changing," Earley said.

The plant itself has not been without its own problems in recent months.

The renovation project came under the City Council's scrutiny in January, after city staff came forward and said the plant's new raw water pumps - which bring water into the plant from the Yampa River - seemed to break under normal operating conditions.

In February, Mike Rothberg, Tetra Tech senior vice president, told the council that his company made an error in its math when it designed the pumps.

Essentially, Tetra Tech engineers neglected to consider pump conditions at high water levels, Rothberg said. Usually, engineers don't bother with those calculations because high waters are relatively easy to pump since the water doesn't have to be pushed very far up.

In the Craig plant's case, Tetra Tech's mistake caused all three pumps to continually break down.

After Rothberg's presentation, the city council opted to follow his recommendations to retrofit the plant to make the new pumps work within the system, instead of buying new pumps to install at the plant.

In his recommendation to council, Rothberg said the city could install a valve that opens and closes on the water line that goes from the pumps to the beginning of the treatment cycle and add a computer system to automate operations.

In high water conditions, the valve would close, putting more backpressure into the line and stabilizing the pumps.

After researching the various options, city staff agreed Rothberg's ideas would be the cheapest and easiest way to get the plant running at full capacity.

Earley issued a $70,380 purchase order last month to Cortez-based Southwest Contracting, the same company that built the new water plant to Tetra Tech's designs, to handle the new renovations.

There may be more small repairs on the horizon, however, once the plant is able to operate at total capacity.

The ultraviolet and dissolved-air flotation filtering systems cannot be fully tested until operators turn the plant up to maximum output, which they cannot do until the pumps are fixed.

Once the city gets a look at the new filters in action, there may need to be some tweaks to the system.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or


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