The town of Oak Creek's request for funds from the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program will be at the top of Routt County's list for the next granting cycle.
The county prioritization committee met Tuesday to hear grant requests from Oak Creek, to renovate the town's wastewater treatment plant, and a grant request from Hayden, to expand the town's water treatment plant.
Both projects received support, but Oak Creek's request was voted as the county's priority.
"I see it as an emergency," Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman said about the project. "I see it as something we absolutely, positively ... have to do."
Oak Creek has a state order to upgrade its antiquated wastewater treatment plant by this fall, but the order fell through the cracks until this spring. Rodeman said that if she had known about the mandate from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment earlier, she would have made the renovations a priority.
To comply with the state order, the town is requesting a $500,000 Energy Impact grant to pay for part of the $1 million renovation project; the other half may come from a grant and loan combination from the Department of Agriculture.
The project will add a system to control ammonia effluent limits and disinfection. Those improvements will prevent health violations caused by elevated ammonia, town officials said.
Several renovation options were researched before choosing this one, Rodeman said. The other options were more expensive, with some costing another $500,000.
The town is asking for a full grant because of debt from other projects, chiefly the new water treatment plant, and because it has a low per-capita income and already elevated sewer rates, according to the grant application.
During the last cycle, Oak Creek's request for $239,230 toward a $407,000 water system improvement project was voted as the top priority.
Hayden's request for funds to expand its water treatment plant would double the town's water production to provide for current and future residents by adding two additional water filters to the existing two filters. It also would provide a backup generator in case of power loss and buy about 5 acres of land surrounding the plant that is needed for the expansion.
The town is asking for about $400,000 in a grant and loan combination. It proposes to pay the additional $140,000 for the project with a cash match from the town.
The timing of the project is important, as receiving funds in this cycle would let the town start work on the project this winter, Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin said.
The plant is working at its maximum capacity, Martin said, so a third water filter is a necessity. A fourth filter would prepare the town for expected development.
Final applications will be sent on to the state committee, and grants likely will be awarded in November. The state committee considers each request, focusing on how the area requesting funds is impacted by energy and mineral development.
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