Town debates potable water for Xcel

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The Hayden Town Board directed Town Manager Russ Martin on Thursday night to research the pros and cons of annexing the Hayden Station power plant into town.

Xcel Energy, operator of Hayden Station, is requesting up to 20,000 gallons of potable water per day from the town to meet higher standards from the Environmental Protection Agency. Direction was given to Martin after the board determined that the only benefit the town would receive from providing this water would be through annexation.

The Town Board also agreed it would hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. April 12 to discuss Martin's findings and possibly enter into negotiations with Xcel.

Xcel representatives have said Xcel would provide the water rights, and that it is seeking town water so that it could use the town water treatment facility's pumps and filters. Representatives approached the Town Board in October, saying they wanted to weigh the cost of using town water with making improvements to their own water-treatment facility, given that the town would be willing to filter and pump water to the power plant.

Public Works Director Frank Fox determined the town's water-treatment facility has the capacity to filter enough water for the power plant and town residents, but it would hinder its ability to provide water to expected growth.

Trustee Ken Gibbon asked what the benefit of allowing Xcel to use town water would be, and Mayor Chuck Grobe replied that the only benefit would be gaining Hayden Station's tax base through annexation.

Martin reminded the board that there are significant impacts with annexation, such as having to expand police protection.

"Water is not the only thing we have to address here," Martin said.

Grobe said it would be wise for Xcel to build a storage tank so Hayden Station could get water if there is none available in the Yampa River.

Hayden Station Director Frank Roitsch said there were several things for Xcel to consider, such as the costs of annexation or building a storage tank. But he said Xcel needs an answer on whether the town would be willing to provide the requested water within the next few weeks, because of the EPA's deadline to meet the new potable water standards.

Grobe said the town also is trying to buy a privately owned reservoir south of Milner, in light of ineffective water rights from Stagecoach Reservoir. The town requested the release of water from Stagecoach two summers ago, but the water was used up before it reached Hayden.

Roitsch said Xcel would be interested in working with the town to get water from the privately owned reservoir no matter the outcome of the current request for potable water.

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