Water workshop touts federal funding

Wednesday water meeting could benefit municipalities, HOAs

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If you go

What: Workshop on funding and technical assistance for water and wastewater treatment

When: 9 a.m. Wednesday

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Contact: To RSVP, call the regional office of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet at 970-241-6631, or e-mail Bennet regional representative Todd Hagenbuch at Todd_hagenbuch@bennet.senate.gov.

— Rural communities, metro districts and even local homeowners' associations could benefit from a Wednesday workshop about federal funding for water and wastewater systems, organizers said.

Local staff of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-CO, will join representatives from the Colorado Rural Water Association, the Rural Community Assistance Corporation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, at Centennial Hall on 10th Street, to provide information about funding and technical assistance for water systems. The Routt County communities of Milner, Phippsburg and Oak Creek are each pursuing water system improvements.

"Our water and wastewater program has significant funding," said Pattie Snidow, Northwest Colorado's area director for the USDA's rural development programs. "I think the effort is to get the word out and let people know there is funding available to them."

Snidow said programs she will discuss at Wednesday's workshop benefit domestic water providers serving populations of 10,000 or less. She said her office is working with the town of Oak Creek, for example, on improvements to its wastewater system.

"We can also do this program with homeowners' associations and small independent water districts and water systems," Snidow said, referring to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. "A lot of these (water) systems are 20 to 30 years old and in need of repair and upgrades. : Now there are just better systems and better ways of doing things that can help people have a better quality of water."

Oak Creek Town Clerk Karen Halterman said the town is waiting for a final review from the USDA on a contract with Duckels Construction to rebuild the town's wastewater treatment plant, which she said is more than 20 years old.

Halterman said the town has received funding for the project from the state Department of Local Affairs and the USDA, but the federal dollars aren't tied to the Recovery Act, she said.

"We applied for stimulus funds months ago but did not receive any," she said.

Halterman said the town also requested $1 million in grant funding for a water tank project but had to scale down its plans after receiving only $400,000 in federal funds channeled through the state Department of Local Affairs.

"I'll tell my water guys to attend that meeting," she said about Wednesday's workshop.

Around Routt

Mike Zopf, Routt County's director of environmental health, said water providers of all sizes face a "constant need" to upgrade their water and wastewater systems.

"I think every community or municipal water and wastewater (provider) has compliance issues, because regulations are constantly being revised to improve the protection of public health," Zopf said Monday.

The county is working on upgrades to water and wastewater systems in Milner and Phippsburg.

The county has hired an engineer from the Fort Collins office of Stantec Consulting Services to extend the outflow at Milner's wastewater plant, built in 1981. The plant is immediately south of the unincorporated western Routt County community and is administered through a county enterprise fund.

Zopf said county officials are accepting bid proposals to upgrade the filters in Phippsburg's water system and conduct a study to deal with corrosion. The county administers that water system, as well, and it could be turning its eyes to the north.

Zopf said the county has a "preliminary engineering plan" to bring sewer and water treatment to Hahn's Peak Village.

"I'd love to see a sewer plan and treatment facility for the community of Hahn's Peak," Zopf said. "That's the next one we'd like to see in the valley."

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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