Wastewater plant has room to grow

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— Construction and growth in Steamboat Springs is placing an extra workload on Steamboat's wastewater treatment plant, but the plant is not yet approaching capacity, a city official said Tuesday.

"We are seeing an increase in septage discharge, but on the same side, it comes along with construction just like traffic, dust and noise," said Jim Weber, the city's director of public works.

The Steamboat Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant was built in 1982 and doubled its capacity with an expansion in 2000.

Plant Superintendent Gilbert Anderson said each Steamboat resident contributes about 100 gallons of wastewater per day, which adds up to almost 1 billion gallons in the city per year. About 500,000 gallons of that waste is delivered by truck and dumped at the facility. Anderson said construction sites are required to provide portable toilets for workers, and all of that waste is dumped at the plant.

"We get about 2 million gallons a day come in here through pipes," said Anderson, who noted the plant is at about 64 percent of its capacity of 5 million gallons per day.

Anderson said despite the increased use, illegal dumping is not a factor at the plant.

"There are a few companies that come and clean out your septage tanks and bring it here by truck," he said. "But if they dumped illegally, it would be something they would lose their permit over."

Weber said city planners would begin to develop plans for a further expansion of the plant in about five years, when he predicts the plant will reach 80 percent capacity. Construction should begin by the time capacity is at 90 to 95 percent.

"We should have it up and running by 2018, when we should be seeing a population of 48,000 people," said Weber, citing forecasts that include full-time residents and visitors.

"The workers produce waste, but what they are working on won't impact waste treatment for four years or so," he said. "From a purely capacity point of view, we are fine now, but Steamboat is growing, and just like building roads, you build sewer lines."

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