Minturn needs water upgrades |

Minturn needs water upgrades

Dustin Racioppi
Minturn, CO Colorado
NWS Minturn Elections PU 1-24-08

MINTURN, Colorado ” The water treatment plant in Minturn has seen few upgrades in the last 40 years, which could be a testament to the durability and effectiveness of its sand filtration system.

But it’s also behind the technology curve “-most communites in the county use a state-of-the-art micro filtration system. The town is now taking a serious look at either a major overhaul or complete replacement of not only the plant, but the entire water system.

“You can tell we’re really not technologically up to standards everyone else is,” interim Town Manager Gary Suiter said. “It’s a pretty outdated system.”

The system, according to a memo from Public Works Director Rod Cordova, requires more manual labor from his crew than most other plants in the area. Plus, new standards and regulations have increasingly made it more difficult to keep the plant in compliance, the memo added. Suiter said the entire system is in need of repair or, in some cases, replacement.

Pipes and valves leak with regularity. The system isn’t looped, which makes isolation difficult when a repair is needed. Last year, the entire town’s water supply was cut off for about half a day while public works made repairs, Suiter said.

Now Suiter will initiate discussions with engineers and nearby towns to figure out the best option for Minturn, which will most likely involve a capital improvement plan. That in turn will all but guarantee a spike in water rates and fees.

But there is no other option. Even though there is an agreement in the Ginn Co. contract that the company would help pay for upgrades to the system, Suiter told the town council last week it can’t afford to hold out hope for the company.

“We need to plan for our future, with or without Ginn,” he said.

Council member Shelley Bellm agreed, and said she thinks the town as a whole needs a capital improvement plan to support infrastructure upgrades and new equipment.

“We don’t know when Ginn is going to come back to the table, and we need to take care of Minturn now,” she said.

And if there is a new plant in Minturn’s future, it’s possible it would take up less space and it would reduce labor costs because new systems, like micro-filtration, are mostly automated. Diane Johnson, community relations manager for Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, said the district has been pleased with its micro-filtering systems.

“Micro-filter systems do well because they don’t take up as much room,” she said, but added the conventional system in Avon works just as well, considering the large demand it supplies.

Johnson said the regional water district’s system is different from a municipality’s, though, and what Minturn likely faces is getting up to date, a task that will require lots of research and lots of money to execute.

Cordova also pointed out in the memo that standards continue to tighten. Failure to meet any them ” especially a new ground water rule taking effect in 2009 ” would trigger the need for a plant upgrade, enhanced water treatment technology or an entirely new water treatment process, he said.

With all these factors, the need for something newer and more effective in Minturn is inevitable.

“No water provider can afford to stay the course,” Cordova said, in the memo addressed to Suiter.

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or

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