Avon wastewater street-heating takes step forward
Avon, CO Colorado
AVON, Colorado ” The Avon Town Council is one step closer to building an innovative system that would use wastewater to heat town streets and the Avon Recreation Center, but members still worry about kinks in agreements with the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.
The council voted to approve three documents at its Tuesday meeting that would also need approval by the water district. The council also added provisions in an effort to protect the project after a lot of back-and-forth negotiating with the water district in recent months.
The project, known as the Avon Heat Recovery Project, can’t happen without a $1.5 million state grant that could get pulled if the town and the water district don’t agree on everything and start building the project by October.
Jennifer Strehler, director of the town’s public works department, has been working on designing and funding the project for about a year, and the water district agreed to split the cost of the engineering study almost immediately. Both entities contributed $90,000 for that study.
The Avon Heat Recovery Project would use the heat from Avon Wastewater Treatment Plant effluent to heat town streets and the Avon Recreation Center.
The state Department of Local Affairs awarded the town a $1.5 million grant for the project ” money that was necessary because neither the town nor the district would have been able to come up with it, Strehler said. The grant is part of a state program encouraging energy efficiency.
The Department of Local Affairs requires the project to show a partnership between two government agencies, and it also puts a deadline on the project. Strehler said the agency has plenty of other programs to give the grant money to, so the town and the water district have to act fast in agreeing on the conditions.
The Town Council approved three agreements at Tuesday’s meeting, but made sure each agreement would be contingent on the others. The water district’s contribution amount of $740,000 was verbally agreed to in late January, after debate from town officials who were under the impression the water district would give more based on earlier talks.
Strehler said the Department of Local Affairs is getting a little impatient because of all of the back and forth and hopes these new agreements will allow the project to move forward.
The Town Council plans to vote on an ordinance that would get the ball rolling in late May.
“We’re trying to make it work,” said Eric Heil, the town’s attorney. “There are a lot of reasons why this project might not work out.”
The Town Council hopes the water district will also agree on the three documents it approved Tuesday night, which say that the water district’s extension of its lease for the Avon Water Treatment Plant is contingent on whether it meet its license and operations responsibilities for the project and contributes its promised share of $740,000. The town’s contribution is about $2.2 million.
“I’m almost more concerned about them cooperating than I am about them giving money,” Ferraro said.
Since the water district only meets once a month, the town hopes to have everything agreed upon by late May so it can start construction.
“There’s been a lot of work done on both sides, and it seems like we made some progress,” said Avon councilman Richard Carroll. “I would hate to see this project die for the community.”
Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org