Halt on new water taps ongoing in Minturn | VailDaily.com

Halt on new water taps ongoing in Minturn

Town is facing challenges when it comes to increasing water service beyond current levels

A view of Cross Creek in Minturn. Cross Creek turbidity — or small particles which create cloudy, hazy water — has the potential to prevent the town from meeting its average daily water demands.
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A moratorium on new water taps in Minturn is expected to be extended on Wednesday after a first reading of the ordinance received council approval earlier this month.

The Minturn Town Council, for the last three years, has prohibited the approval of construction projects involving more than three single-family homes due to the challenges the town is facing when it comes to increasing water service beyond current levels.

Mike Sawyer, the town attorney, at a meeting earlier this month, explained the necessity of the moratorium as a function of the town’s water rights and the capacity of the town’s treatment plant, which was constructed in the 1960s and has “reached the end of its useful life,” according to language in the ordinance.

Much of the problem revolves around the issue of “turbidity,” or small particles which create cloudy, hazy water.

“The treatment plant, as it originally operated, had three slow-sand filter bays; due to the age of those facilities together with regulations imposed by the state of Colorado, two of those three filter bays have been taken out of service,” Sawyer said. “What this has meant is that when there is turbidity in Cross Creek, the town no longer really has at its option the ability to put water through the slow-sand filters because we only have one of them operational.”

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The town has a temporary cartridge plant that can treat some surface water diversion from Cross Creek, but it’s limited to about 50 gallons per minute, Sawyer said. In addition to Cross Creek surface water diversions, the town has water rights to draw from two wells, but the elimination of the two slow-sand filters has made the town “more and more reliant on its well water, which has lower turbidity and materials in it that can be treated easier by the cartridge plant, or through chlorination.”

In a worst-case scenario — where only one well is operational while Cross Creek is simultaneously experiencing high turbidity — the town can’t meet its average daily water demands.

While the town is working to avoid this situation by constructing a new water treatment plant, that plant is still years away from completion, making the moratorium necessary. The town has yet to exceed its consumptive use limitations, but it has come close, something which was pointed out in the ordinance.

A first reading of that ordinance, which extends the moratorium, received approval from the Town Council on Feb. 1, and a second reading has been placed on the agenda for the council’s Wednesday meeting. That meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Minturn Town Hall, located at 302 Pine St.

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