Avon street-heating plan in peril? | VailDaily.com

Avon street-heating plan in peril?

Matt Terrell
Avon, Colorado
Avon may have to scrap plans to heat its new Main Street because the project may be short of funds.

AVON, Colorado ” Avon’s plans to melt snow on Main Street using heat from the nearby wastewater treatment plant could be scratched if the Colorado town can’t convince a local water authority to contribute more money.

The town had asked the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, which operates the wastewater treatment plant in Avon, to contribute $1.3 million to the project, about 40 percent of the cost. Last week, the district committed to just $423,000, putting a big question mark on the town’s ability to fund the project.

The district contends that while Avon would greatly benefit from the project ” which would allow the town to melt snow on Main Street and heat the recreation center pool without a large carbon footprint ” the benefits to the treatment plant aren’t so obvious.

The water and sanitation board decided that possible benefits to the treatment plant ” such as installing snow melt at some of the treatment plant’s parking areas or heating a portion of the plant ” weren’t at all cost effective.

The board decided that other benefits, such as using redirected heat to dry sludge and lowering the temperature of treated water before it goes back to the Eagle River, was worth around 7 percent of the total cost.

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“We are very conscious of trying to protect the river and enhance the river, but it needs to be cost effective. We need to weigh the cost versus the benefits,” board president Bob Warner said. “With the information we had, yes, we were confident in the decision.”

The town disagrees and says the improvements would be worth more than $1 million. The town council is proposing a joint meeting to discuss the benefits to both groups and see if the district can contribute more money.

If the water and sanitation board doesn’t increase its funding, the town would have to totally redesign the heat recovery system and make it smaller, Mayor Ron Wolfe said.

The system, as it’s designed now, assumed that the district would be using a lot more heat.

And while the size of the system may shrink, the cost may not go down as fast, and may become unaffordable for the town.

“We are still very committed to doing this, but I’m a bit apprehensive. We don’t know whether it will be a feasible project,” Wolfe said.

Warner said that if the town wants to schedule a meeting, they’ll gladly meet with the council and talk. But he also said the board was pretty confident in its decision.

The project was recently awarded a $1.5 million grant from the state for programs that promote energy efficiency, but it won’t be enough to cover all the costs.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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