Water treatment plant upgrades planned | CraigDailyPress.com

Water treatment plant upgrades planned

At the peak of summer, Craig residents are using as much water as the city’s water plant is capable of processing.

That will change.

The city has received preliminary approval for a $275,000 Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance grant. Adding $275,000 of the city’s money will pay for an engineer to design either an upgrade to the existing water plant or a new facility.

Once complete, Public Works Director Bill Earley said, the plant’s six million gallon-a-day capacity will increase to 9.5 million gallons a day, which would accommodate an additional 5,000 to 6,000 users.

But, the cost could be high. A report completed five years ago estimated the cost of a new water treatment plant at $6 million, and that’s the number city officials are still playing with.

The price could be less, though, if new microfiltration technology could be worked into the existing plant. That’s one suggestion from one engineer who has submitted a proposal. Earley said he has received three proposals from engineers, each with a different plan to increase the plant’s capacity.

He’ll be traveling to other facilities and talking to plant operators to determine the best system and the best system for Craig.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’re doing some investigating ourselves to try to find as much information as we can on the different systems proposed.”

The goal is to end up with a flexible treatment system that can accommodate changes in Environmental Protection Agency standards.

“It’s tough because you don’t know exactly what they’re going to come up with, so you do want a system that’s flexible,” Earley said.

He hopes have a recommendation by June to take before the Craig City Council for approval. Construction should begin in the spring of 2006.

Until an engineer is chosen and a design selected, the cost of the project is undetermined and until the cost is determined, the method of financing and repayment are up in the air.

City Manager Jim Ferree has placed the city on the list to get a low-interest loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority. Other options would be for the city to issue its own bonds or for grant dollars to help pay for the upgrade.

“We don’t have a firm cost for the project, so it’s a little premature to line up financing yet,” Earley said.

Using the water fund’s reserve and saving in other areas, it is expected the city will have $1.5 million to put down on the project. Earley said one option for repaying a loan could be using the $200,000 appropriated each year to replace water lines.

“We may have to cut back on some other items, too,” he said.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com

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