Hayden's water treatment plant needed work.
About a week and a half ago, the motor in one of the two old high-service pumps blew out. Four days later, the other one broke to the point it couldn't be fixed.
If construction workers had not already installed new pumps by the time the old ones failed, the plant would not have been able to pump water to Hayden residents. The town would have had to live off of water from the town's storage tank, and once its two-day supply ran out, the town would have been without water altogether.
Fortunately, three new pumps had just been installed as part of a $1.7 million upgrade project to modernize Hayden's water treatment plant. The project began in August 2002 and should be complete by the end of May.
"That's the position the town had been in a long time," said Jim Hinton, project superintendent for The Commercial Division, Inc. of Steamboat Springs. "Crisis management is what I called it."
But Hayden Public Works Director Frank Fox says getting water to Hayden has never been a serious problem in the 17 years he has worked there. The water treatment plant's functionality had never been a real threat, Fox said, but the plant had been getting increasingly difficult and tedious to maintain.
Both the old pumps had to run 24 hours a day, and at many times, so did the employees, Fox said.
"Sometimes, we'd work a hell of a lot of hours," he said. "Someone would have to be here all the time."
One of the plant's upgrades is alarms that will alert town employees of a problem; before, the plant relied on manpower. The alarms, as well as several other new automated features, will reduce the amount of time employees have to be present.
The two pumps that were replaced could pump a combined 800 gallons per minute, 800,000 gallons per day, but had no backup if one failed.
The revamped water treatment plant will use only two of its three new pumps, which can pump a combined 1,000 gallons of water per minute, 1 million gallons per day. The third pump is for backup or future expansion, and the new pump house has space to add a fourth pump if one is ever needed.
"The plant can double its capacity with little effort," said Randy Hurley of Civil Design Consultants.
With a number of development projects in the works in the Hayden area, including a proposed 900-acre subdivision called Sunburst Ranch on the south side of town that could potentially triple the town's population over the next 20 years, the plant's extra capacity and ease of expansion are valuable.
"That's the big thing about this project: being able to handle future growth," Fox said.
The plant has many other new additions to accommodate future growth and enhance efficiency.
Many of the upgrades in the plant relate to controls, changing man-powered or air-powered to more accurate, digitally automated, computer-powered controls -- the type better adjusted with a laptop than a wrench. New valves can be open and shut automatically or with the push of a button.
The main control panel, or motherboard, of the system is a $150,000 cabinet that monitors all aspects of the plant's operations. The plant operator can watch and control almost everything with a mouse, watching a screen that shows what is running, what valves are open and how efficiently the equipment is operating. A schematic icon shows each element along the path of water filtration.
"It's like changing from the Dark Ages to the new millennium," Hurley said.
The town's public works employees are learning to use the equipment on the job, and formal training sessions with the equipment's suppliers are planned.
The plant also is equipped with two new, larger sedimentary ponds and a floculator, an new feature.
A floculator aids in water filtration. It is a place where chemicals are applied that attach to sedimentary particles and allow them to settle.
The floculator also increases efficiency and doubles the capacity of sedimentary filtration.
Hayden is paying for the facility with about $200,000 of the town's reserve fund, a $300,000 grant and a $200,000 loan from the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Fund, and a $1 million loan from the Colorado Resources and Power Development Authority.
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