Craig city water plant to hit projected capacity in 2001 |

Craig city water plant to hit projected capacity in 2001

Christina M. Currie

— According to city calculations, if water use continues to increase at the current rate, the Craig Water Plant will reach its capacity by the year 2001. Circumventing the problem could cost the Water/Wastewater Department $5.3 million.

The water plant handles 35 million gallons a week during peak demand seasons. The plant can produce 6.5 million gallons a day or about 46 million gallons in a seven-day period if it runs 24 hours a day, which at this point it does not.

Each year for the past four years, water demand has risen an average of 2.8 percent. If it continues to increase at that rate, the water plant will be at its capacity in two years.

Using an Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance grant, the City of Craig has commissioned Rothberg, Tamburini and Winsor (RTW), engineers from Steamboat Springs, to create a water and wastewater master plan. A draft of this plan was published in July that gives the city upgrade schedules and options.

The water plant capacity is one of the reasons the city produced a master plan, City Public Works Director Bill Early said.

The water plant rarely runs 24 hours a day because of manpower and overtime concerns. To curtail concerns about the plant reaching capacity before money is available to expand it, RTW has suggested the city consider automating the plant. Automation would save the city money by not having to purchase another holding tank to keep up with peak demand hours.

There is a storage tank for the downtown zone of Craig. It is filled by the water plant and then other tanks around the city draw water from that tank.

“If we fill that tank at night and draw on it during the day, we won’t need the additional storage,” Early said. “This just allows us to better utilize the capabilities of the plant.”

With an automated system, operators can take home laptop computers that will alert them if there is a problem. The operator can then communicate with the computers at the plant via modem to correct the problem.

“That should do us for a few years,” Early said.

City officials are working with RTW on a cost analysis of automation.

“This looks like the easiest, cheapest way to keep us going for a few years,” Early said. “But it’s not going to last forever.”

With the automation, Early believes it will be five to eight years before the water plant needs to look into expanding its capacity.

Expansion would increase the plant maximum capacity from 6.5 million gallons a day to about 9.4 million gallons a day. Using a 1.6 percent to 2.5 percent growth projection, the expansion should meet needs until the year 2020.

“None of this is written in concrete,” Early said. “You never know what’s going to happen with growth and population in the future.”

Expanding the water plant capacity will also solve another problem the plant is facing. New Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards require water to react with chlorine a certain amount of time before it reaches the first consumer. The way the plant currently operates, if water consumption reaches peak capacity, operators have to get more water to customers and can only do that by not meeting the minimum EPA standards.

It’s not a health risk, Early said, that’s the way they’ve been providing water for 20 years, but officials want to comply with the new regulations.

“It’s a problem we’ll need to fix with the upgrade,” Early said.


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