Water topics up for discussion

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The list of water items slated for discussion at Tuesday night's City Council meeting could turn up the heat on issues that already have placed the city into hot water.

At the suggestion of City Councilman Ken Brenner, the water discussion will include an update on the city's water rights application, an analysis of the city's future water and wastewater capacity, Mount Werner Water's decision to annex land for a water infiltration gallery and the legal dispute between the Mount Werner Water District and city on service to the Sundance Plaza and Angler's Drive area.

Other issues that could cause heated discussion are a look at whether water rights filed on the Flattops Ranch will impact the city, whether a water conservation policy should be in place, and a look at replacing a wastewater agreement with the district that expires in 2005.

"It will be a good update for anyone interested in water issues, and I know I plan to learn a lot," Brenner said.

Along with the updates, Brenner hopes the council can come up with enough of a consensus on some of the issues to direct city staff to gather more information so that policy decisions can be made in the future.

The water focus group, which has worked for the past year and a half to consolidate services and iron out problems between the city and district, is invited to the meeting.

First on the agenda is an update about the city's filing for a recreational water right on the Yampa River. The city's water attorney, Glenn Porzak, will be giving an update on the application and discuss the application hearing with the Colorado Water Conservation Board later this month.

The council also plans to talk about meeting future demands for water and wastewater treatment needs. The city is looking at an arrangement where it would complete two filtration bays at the water filtration gallery and lease some of the filtration capacity to Mount Werner Water.

Another item up for discussion will be the city's annual $175,000 purchase of water storage in Fish Creek Reservoir from Mount Werner Water. Under an agreement, the city may exercise up to 12 annual options to purchase a share of the reservoir expansion, which Mount Werner Water financed.

"At this point, with water consolidation talks on hold right now, I think it is kind of important to talk about," Brenner said.

The council also will look at the water focus groups' suggestion to replace a wastewater agreement between the city and Mount Werner Water that expires in October 2005. The group has recommended that the city establish a uniform base sewer rate that all customers would pay. Currently, Mount Werner pays the city to treat its sewage by volume.

Mount Werner Water's decision to annex a 37-acre piece of land also will be discussed. The city has questioned the move, asking why annexation is needed for land intended for an infiltration gallery and with no plans for water and sewer service.

Brenner said the annexation raises the question of whether the city, county and water district should try to keep the boundaries of the urban service area, the city limits and the water district the same.

Another hot topic for discussion is the past legal dispute between the city and Mount Werner Water on servicing the Sundance Plaza and Angler's Drive area. After a lawsuit was withdrawn, the city and Mount Werner Water have come to an agreement regarding wastewater and water lines in the area. The city started billing Mount Werner Water for wastewater treatment costs in that area, but those charges have yet to be paid.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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