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Minturn determined to fix water system

Dustin Racioppi
dracioppi@vaildaily.com
Minturn, CO Colorado

MINTURN, Colorado ” Ideally, some of that economic stimulus money would make its way to Minturn, Colorado and help knock off a few items on the town’s wish list, but the staff and Town Council aren’t pinning their hopes on that alone.

In order to try and accomplish one of the Town Council’s goals for the year ” upgrading the town water plant and its distribution system” Interim Town Manager Gary Suiter is seeking alternative funding. He said he’s eyeing grants first, then will explore the possibility of low-interest loans.

The town already has been placed on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s eligibility list for a low-interest loan, but Suiter would prefer a grant.

There are other projects the town needs to undertake, but at the moment, upgrading the water plant and its distribution system is a top priority.

“It’s basically old and needs to be upgraded,” Suiter said. “It’s still effective and it’s still an efficient system, just old.”

It’s so old that Minturn is one of the last towns to use slow sand filtration. Most use a microfiltration system or, like Avon, a conventional filtration system.

Although Minturn’s system is effective, it’s also labor-intensive.

A one hour job at a microfiltration plant could take days in Minturn. Public works employees spend at least an hour a day logging data and other statistics at the plant when a newer technology could get the information automatically, and therefore would free the employees to concentrate on other tasks.

“Any other plant in this valley has an automated process,” Public Works Director Rod Cordova said. “(It’s) just a lot of manual labor.”

Upgrading the water distribution system is a major concern for Cordova. Even though he and his workers have dramatically reduced the amount of leaks in the system, there’s still leaks. He’d also like there to be a looped distribution system, meaning that certain portions of the system could be isolated instead of isolating a large, unnecessary chunk of it. He’d like new valves and more of them placed throughout the piping system. In some areas, the system is in need of new pipes all together.

Those are just a couple of problems Cordova and the Public Works department have been facing.

“We can deal with them no problem, but there’s a more efficient way of doing things,” he said.

Cordova doesn’t know exactly how much all those things would cost, but at least a couple million dollars, he said. And it would likely be a process that is done in phases over several years, he added.

“We have to have a starting point, and it’s time,” Cordova said.

Suiter said he and Cordova are floating the idea of hiring an engineering company to look hard at the condition of the water plant, and also the infrastructure of the town. From there, a list would be made to prioritize the town’s project needs. It’s a planning process, Suiter said, that could help obtain funds, in whatever form that may be.

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or dracioppi@vaildaily.com.


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