City releases water study
Report gives capacity, cost projections for potential development
December 18, 2009
Capacity by the numbers
■ Projected maximum water demand at build-out of city and west of Steamboat Springs area, including Steamboat 700, 360 Village and other development: 7.34 million gallons per day, or mgd
■ Existing city water treatment capacity: 4.55 mgd
■ Current city demand: 3.3 mgd
■ Potential added capacity through expansion of water treatment capabilities in south Steamboat: 0.85 mgd
■ Potential added capacity through addition of three filter trains at Fish Creek water treatment plant: 2.25 mgd
■ Total city water treatment capacity after additions: 7.65 mgd*
*The total does not include a potential additional 2.5 mgd from a water treatment plant near Routt County Road 44 that would treat 8 cubic feet per second of water from the Elk River. The plant could ultimately have a capacity of 5 mgd and “is necessary to provide adequate service to the west of Steamboat Springs area,” according to McLaughlin Water Engineers.
Cost by the numbers
McLaughlin Water Engineers listed the following facilities and cost estimates for water infrastructure to service future development west of Steamboat and provide system redundancy for the city.
Elk River augmentation reservoir: $7.5 million
Elk River water treatment plant: $4.75 million
Total construction budget, including pump station, pipes, contingencies, etc. — $21.6 million
100-acre reservoir: $5 million
Pump station: $75,000
Treatment plant: $400,000
Total land budget, including easements, appraisals, etc.: $5.8 million
■ Total budget for additional capacity expansion infrastructure: $6.7 million
■ Total expansion cost: $34.1 million
Source: Water and Wastewater Master Plan Updates, December 2009, for the city of Steamboat Springs by McLaughlin Water Engineers Ltd., based in Denver
Philo Shelton said Thursday that he is confident in the city's updated plan for $34 million worth of potential water infrastructure that would service future development west of Steamboat Springs.
Shelton is director of Steamboat Springs' public works department. On Tuesday, he presented a study by McLaughlin Water Engineers, of Denver, "Water and Wastewater Master Plan Updates," to the Steamboat Springs City Council. The study includes projected water and wastewater demands and details the infrastructure needed to service those demands should potential development — including the proposed Steamboat 700 and 360 Village annexations — occur west of current city limits.
"It does not raise concerns for me," Shelton said about the city's ability to meet future water capacity demands, costs and infrastructure plans. "This plan is a good plan to allow for treated water, as well as nonpotable irrigation water. … The other piece is that it allows for a new source of water and provides needed redundancy in our region."
City residents will decide whether to approve or deny the Steamboat 700 annexation in a mail-only vote that begins with ballots sent in mid-February and concludes March 9. Steamboat 700 proposes about 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space just west of the current city limits. The annexation's impact on water supply has been a subject of debate.
The McLaughlin study projects a maximum water demand of 7.34 million gallons per day, or mgd, after build-out within city limits and in the west of Steamboat area, including potential annexations and other development. The city's current water treatment capacity is 4.55 mgd, and the current city demand is 3.3 mgd, according to the study. Those figures do not include demands serviced by the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District.
Expanding existing city facilities — including additional filtration at the Fish Creek water treatment plant, which the city shares with the Mount Werner district — could boost the city's treatment capacity to 7.65 mgd, just more than the 7.34 mgd future demand.
But that does not mean expansion of the city's current facilities could service future development west of Steamboat. McLaughlin engineers said city facilities cannot adequately pump water to that area, would lose water quality over long transmissions, and would face a shortage in the event of an emergency such as a treatment plant outage or fire.
McLaughlin engineers said development of the city's 8 cubic feet per second water right on the Elk River is essential.
"The Elk River supply represents an excellent long-term asset and is necessary to provide adequate service to the west Steamboat Springs area," the study states.
The $34 million cost of developing that service includes $5 million to buy the 1,000-acre site for a reservoir; $7.5 million to build the reservoir; $4.75 million to build a water treatment plant that initially would provide 2.5 mgd, and ultimately could provide 5 mgd; and other land, construction, legal and administrative costs.
"These kind of numbers are not unusual," Shelton said. "When you consider the amount of development that the (West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan) is proposing, they're reasonable numbers. They're not out of line with the industry at all."
The city would use revenue from development in the area to pay for the bonds, Shelton said. McLaughlin Water Engineers is compiling a rate schedule to determine potential tap fees, Shelton said.
Danny Mulcahy, principal and project manager for Steamboat 700, said the annexation agreement states that the development will comply with the city's adopted fee schedule. Steamboat 700 will pay the city $960,000 for development of the Elk River water supply. Mulcahy said that is the annexation's only additional payment for water infrastructure development.
On Tuesday night, Burgess Creek Road resident Bill Jameson expressed strong concern about the city's water costs associated with Steamboat 700, and unsuccessfully asked the City Council to consider repealing the annexation altogether.
Thirty-four million dollars "is a lot of money — and that's only one unanswered question," Jameson said, noting that the $34 million cost would rise with interest on the bonds.
Bob Litzau, the city's assistant finance director, said Thursday that the city is paying off four water-related, multiyear bond issuances.
The McLaughlin study said water infrastructure on the west side of the city is needed regardless of future development, to provide redundancy for what it called a "dead-end" city water treatment system that comes only from one side of the city. McLaughlin said building a 1-million-gallon storage tank near Steamboat Springs Airport is a high priority for the city and that a booster pump station will be needed if the Elk River supply is not developed.
Shelton said the updated master plan assumes development west of Steamboat and is subject to change.
"Our intent is to leave (the master plan) as draft/final (document) until the vote is made this March," Shelton said. "If the direction of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan should change, then we would want to update the master plan to the new direction."