A Phippsburg community meeting Wednesday night likely will focus on the stalled process of improving the town's water system.
The community meeting is an annual event, and Routt County commissioners said they expect residents to question why the water system improvements have been delayed. They also anticipate questions about water and sewer rate increases to help pay for the improvements.
A year ago, water rates jumped from $57 per quarter per household to $84, said Routt County Environmental Health Director Michael Zopf. On Jan. 1, rates increased again to $86 per quarter. Sewer rates also increased this year, going from $45 to $48 per quarter per household.
Increases in fees are difficult for Phippsburg residents, many of whom are retired and on fixed incomes, Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said.
"We need to go down there and explain to the community where we are on the project and where their dollars are going," Monger said.
Routt County has received a grant of $300,000 and a loan of $131,000 from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to bring the water facility up to state standards.
Phippsburg's facility can disinfect water and control corrosion, but under the Colorado Safe Drinking Water Regulations, the water should be filtrated. The treatment plant was built in 1980 and does not have enough space for filtration equipment, so a new building is necessary.
The planned improvements would provide for an additional 30 taps, making the plant's total capacity 154 taps.
The county planned to build the new building on property owned by Union Pacific Railroad, but because of delays in those negotiations, it started talks last fall with Ray, Louise and Elvis Iacovetto about a different piece of land.
A verbal agreement on the purchase has been reached with the Iacovettos, Monger said, but the specifics of a contract need to be decided.
Last November, county commissioners decided to reject bids for construction of the project they received in the summer and ask for another set of bids because of delays. Zopf said he hopes the project will go out to bid again in a month or two.
Officials planned to have improvements finished by fall of 2003, but various roadblocks have kept that from happening, Monger said.
"We have been working very diligently on it," he said.
A design for the improved plant at the new site has been drafted by Civil Design Consultants Inc. "I think the direction we're going will be a satisfactory one for the long term," Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison said.
The community meeting is at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Phippsburg Community Center.
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