Bennet gets first-hand look at Minturn’s water issues
Eagle River Valley town, which has had a moratorium on new taps since 2020, receives $1M from federal appropriations for a new tank
Sen. Michael Bennet toured Minturn on Wednesday, where he was able to admire a pair of moose grazing in the Cross Creek drainage and learn about the 4/20 special being offered at one of his daughter’s favorite restaurants, Rocky Mountain Taco.
But the true purpose of Bennet’s visit was to check on the $2,255,084 water tank construction project scheduled to get underway soon near Maloit Park. Bennet visited the site and was briefed on the status of the project and what the new water storage capabilities will mean to Minturn.
Upon arriving on site, town leaders gifted Bennet with an artifact from the last major water project that was undertaken in Minturn, the late-1980s replacement of the town’s wooden water lines, which were built in the 1920s.
“That’s incredible,” Bennet said of the wire-wrapped wooden water line. “I will take this.”
The irony of the situation is that the town likely had better water pressure with the wooden lines. The town now uses PVC pipe, which is 12 inches in diameter, as opposed to the 6-inch or 8-inch wooden pipe.
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The new water tank will help with water pressure, said Minturn Mayor Earle Bidez.
Moratorium on new taps
Bennet, along with Sen. John Hickenlooper, secured $1 million for the construction of the water tank via 2022 Senate appropriations; the tank is one of 56 Colorado projects that Bennet requested receive funds via various appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2022.
In total, $158 million in funding for Colorado projects were included in the Fiscal Year 2022 Senate appropriations bills.
“Every single of one those was a worthy project, and frankly the next 50 were worthy projects too,” Bennet said.
Bidez said in addition to improving pressure to the Maloit Park area and fire hydrants throughout town, the new tank will give Minturn better capability “for economic growth, as needed,” he said.
As new housing development applications come forward in Minturn, water is always a concern, Bidez said. The new concrete water tank will be built on town-owned land on the property of the current water plant.
In 2020, the town of Minturn enacted a moratorium on the allocation of water taps for new build construction projects requiring more than three single-family equivalents. The moratorium, which was renewed in February, remains necessary given continuing limitations on Minturn’s ability to reliably provide water service.
In March, the town approved plans and zoning for a new development called Belden Place, consisting of 42 units including single family homes, duplexes and condominium triplexes.
During the approvals, it was pointed out by Town Attorney Mike Sawyer that, despite the approvals, Belden Place is “only being allowed to occur once the moratorium is either modified or lifted.”
‘Good value project’
A potential housing development in a more immediate location to Bennet’s tour was discussed on Wednesday, one that Eagle County Schools hopes will build as many as 150 employee housing units on land owned by the school district. Bennet toured a portion of the 20-acre site.
“I’m so glad you’re doing it,” Bennet said. “If we do not have a solution like what you’re talking about here, we’re not going to have school districts, because we’re not going to have teachers.”
Bidez said the cost of water is an oft-overlooked factor in the cost of housing.
Along with the cost of land, “both are very expensive,” Bidez said.
For the 750-or-so homes paying for water service in Minturn, the $1 million in federal money secured by Bennet amounts to more than $1,300 savings in water bills.
“It’s going to be a good-value project for us,” he said.