Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs City Council agreed Tuesday night to spend more than $500,000 to build a new water tank jointly with the Steamboat II Metropolitan District. The total cost of the project is about $1.4 million.
Technically, council's action this week approved a grant application already undertaken by city staff earlier this month.
By approving the application for a $300,000 Energy Impact Grant, council effectively agreed to go forward with the project, which was being planned at an indefinite time in the future. If the grant is approved by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, it would lower the local cost of the tank to $1.1 million. The city and the metro district are tentatively planning to share the cost of the tank evenly; they must still sign an intergovernmental agreement to cover the terms of building, operating and maintaining the tank.
The new million-gallon water tank would be built on a hill overlooking the existing Steamboat II subdivision. The water storage and pressure it affords would be shared equally by the city and the metro district.
City Public Works Director Jim Weber said Wednesday the money for the project would come from the city's utility fund, which has its own dedicated source of revenue. City Manager Paul Hughes added that the city has the potential to recover a portion of the cost of the new tank from tap fees that will someday be charged to new homes west of Steamboat. And even if the city has to borrow money to build the tank, it would only impact the water utility fund, and not the city's general fund or even its fund for wastewater treatment.
Weber said the metro district feels some urgency in developing the project because the district is growing. Up to 25 new homes are slated for construction in the first filing of Silver Spur estates.
Metro District Manager Doug Baker said Wednesday the real issue for his district will arise next summer when Silver Spur filing II is developed. At that point, Baker said, the existing water tank won't provide adequate pressure.
"We're in good shape until phase II is complete," Baker said. "The elevation of some of those houses will result in insufficient pressure for fire flow."
Baker said the metro district was aware that the city had included a new water tank in its master plan for west of Steamboat and approached the city to ask if it would like to be partners in the new tank.
"It's happened real fast," Baker said.
Linda Kakela, the city's director of intergovernmental services, said city staff only became aware of the grant opportunity since the last City Council meeting on June 20. In order to meet a June 30 deadline for review by the local Impact Fund Prioritization Committee, Kakela said city staff decided to go ahead with the application process and consult City Council on July 11. City Councilwoman Arianthtettner sits on the prioritization committee.
Hughes said the chance to cooperate with the metro district was viewed as an opportunity because working together they can build a 1 million-gallon tank for less than they could each build their own 500,000 gallon tanks.
Weber said one of the advantages resulting from cooperating with the metro district is gaining access to the new tank site and its higher elevation at 6,880 feet. The city doesn't have access to a location of similar elevation, Weber said, and the site higher on the hillside takes advantage of gravity to provide pressure instead of an expensive series of pumps.
Although the development of west of Steamboat is in the future, Weber added that the city will reap immediate benefits because the new tank will increase pressure to the existing system, particularly for fire suppression in the area of the airport.