Water district receives first go ahead to expand | VailDaily.com

Water district receives first go ahead to expand

EAGLE COUNTY — A regional water district got its first green light for improvements needed to meet tougher state and federal regulations.

The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District will upgrade and expand its Edwards plant, the next in a series of projects designed to meet tougher EPA water standards.

The Eagle County commissioners Tuesday approved their part of the project, which will:

• Double the treatment capacity of the Edwards plant.

• Include one of the industry’s most advanced odor control systems.

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• Handle growth through 2025.

• Enable the Edwards plant to handle solid waste from the Vail and Avon plants.

Stricter standards

The district is being forced to meet new state and federal regulations limiting the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen its wastewater plants release into Gore Creek and the Eagle River.

The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District is the valley’s first regional water provider to be subjected to the tougher standards.

“The regulations are out there and we, as a water provider, are required to comply,” said Diane Johnson, of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

The Edwards project is part of the district’s 15-year plan to meet those standards.

Who’s paying and how

The numbers crunch like this:

In December 2012, the district issued a $28 million revenue bond to fund the projects through 2015. Beginning in 2015, property owners from East Vail to Edwards will see about $6 a month on the wastewater bill for a $3,000 square foot home.

The second phase will cost another $25 million.

People in the district will choose one of two ways to pay for it:

• A rate increase on their water bill.

• A property tax increase.

The property tax increase will cost about $5 a month beginning in 2017.

However, that property tax increase will get the district a lower interest rate and save about $1.8 million during the life of the 30-year bond.

Also, about the time a new property tax would hit, an old property tax will expire, Johnson said. If voters approve a new property tax, then the difference will be about $2 a year.

Since customers are paying for this, the district board decided to put it to them for a vote, Johnson said. In Tuesday’s presentation to the county commissioners, water district officials made it clear: If the property tax increase fails, the district will raise rates.

Ballots will be mailed out to eligible voters, and Election Day is May 6.

The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District handles wastewater for the eastern end of the valley, from East Vail to Minturn and west to Cordillera.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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