Snake River Water District to invest $ 38.5 million in infrastructure improvements over the next 10 years
The Snake River Water District will undergo a variety of rehabilitations and improvements over the next 10 years based on its 2021 master plan.
The district, which supplies the Keystone Valley with drinking water, was the subject of a study with a consulting firm to assess the strengths and weaknesses of its infrastructure. The idea to review the infrastructure upgrade began about two years ago when the district was informed that there was a slight lead exceedance based on two water samples.
Scott Price, executive director and district administrator, said this is happening not because there is a problem with the actual water, but because the pipes in some older homes in the area were built with water. lead and are still in use. If water is left in the pipes for too long, it can lead to lead concentrations in the water samples. Price said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment must use the water that first comes out when the faucet is turned on when testing water samples, which will likely be affected by lead. if the water remains unused in the old pipes.
The district has three basic factories, each with its own water storage and filtration system. The second base, which also houses the district office, will likely need an additional storage tank to service the high-density area of Keystone Resort, as well as a pumping station that can carry water upstream from the third to second base. .
One existing infrastructure problem that needs to be addressed is broken water pipes, an issue that Price says can cost around 10 times more to repair in winter than in summer. Engineers looked at which pipes were most likely to break, but also at the severity of the consequences that could result from a rupture.
The study prioritized the pipes and hydrants in the district that would require immediate attention, creating a map showing the different priorities depending on each area. The district plans to gradually reduce these improvements to pipes and standpipes during the 10-year plan.
Meanwhile, the third plant underwent $ 8.5 million in upgrades a few years ago, including a new filtration system. Price said he expects this filtration system to be compliant for decades as water quality regulations tighten over time.
“Everyone is starting to pay a lot more attention because we have taken water for granted for so long, not just the quality but the quantity,” Price said.
Price also said if the base two plant were to be upgraded – which he expects from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment by the end of the year – l The entire district will be able to operate temporarily on the new base three. plant.
Finally, the study showed that the Pilot Lode district storage tank near the townhouses in Settlers Creek will require upgrades to its interior lining, as it is approximately 25 years old and constructed of steel.
The study estimates that over 10 years, the neighborhood will need around $ 38.5 million worth of work, estimated as follows:
- Pumping station from base three to base two: $ 1.5 million
- Base two storage tank: $ 7.6 million
- Base two groundwater under direct influence compliance: $ 11.8 million
- Rehabilitation of the Pilot Lode reservoir: $ 550,000
- Pipeline replacements: $ 13.5 million
- Hydrant replacement: $ 1.6 million
In addition to these costs, there are several small projects included in the master plan which represent the remaining $ 2 million of the budget. These estimates only cover the cost of construction, and the district will have to pay more in the coming months for architects and engineers to design the systems.
The district worked with another consulting firm, this one specializing in financing, to determine a 10-year financing plan to make the restorations possible.
The plan calls for a 12% rate increase in early 2022, and the Snake River Water District board currently plans to increase 12% over the next three years. The basic quarterly fee will drop from $ 65 in 2022 to $ 91 in 2024.
The Snake River Water District has not increased its water rates for about eight years, which then was only a 3% increase. Prior to that, it had not increased its quarterly rates since the 1990s.
“The board has done a good job of trying to keep costs down and everything, but we probably could have started some of that a little earlier.” Price says. “So now we take a look at it and say if we don’t, it’s just going to get worse and it’s going to cost more. We have to bite the bullet and do it now.
Price said the board would review its progress after the three-year hike to determine if further rate hikes would be needed. The district will also review federal loans and grants.
“We’re in pretty good shape, but we’ve got a lot of work to do, that’s really what it means,” Price said. “We will try to do this as quickly as possible.”