Steamboat to hold meeting about sewer work |

Steamboat to hold meeting about sewer work

Meeting to address details of upcoming construction in alley

Mike Lawrence

— The uncertainties involved in digging up 100-year-old pipes could make the extensive sewer line replacement scheduled for summer in downtown Steamboat Springs something of a crapshoot.

But city Public Works Director Philo Shelton said Sunday that he doesn't expect too many surprises in the upcoming work, slated for the alley between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street.

"I don't anticipate anything major, short of unsuitable earth to backfill with, like what (Colorado Department of Transportation) experienced," Shelton said, referring to challenges that arose during the state's massive repaving project on Lincoln Avenue a year ago. "You might hit some kind of river-bottom-type fill, some of the black muck. …We allow for that in the bid."

Native Excavating won that bid and will begin the work in coming weeks. A public meeting to discuss details of the project and address concerns of property owners and others is at 4 p.m. Thursday in Centennial Hall on 10th Street.

Shelton stressed that the sewer project should have far less impact on downtown businesses and pedestrians than last year's repaving. The sewer work will occur on two blocks at a time, starting at 10th Street and moving east to Fourth Street.

Shelton and utilities engineer Jon Snyder already have begun meeting with downtown business owners about potential impacts from this summer's sewer replacement. Topics discussed at Thursday's meeting could include the project's schedule, coordination of deliveries and waste disposal, according to a city news release.

Recommended Stories For You

The project will replace century-old, clay, sanitary sewer pipes with new pipes, while also installing a new storm sewer. The storm sewer will alleviate stress on the city's wastewater treatment plant by funneling water from buildings' roofs and downspouts, and from sump pumps, into a line separate from the sanitary pipes.

"This will improve the reliability of the sewer system by a bunch," Shelton said. "It's important for sump pumps and downspouts not to be connected into a sanitary sewer, and to run into the storm sewer."

The alley will be repaved as a result of the work, meaning some surface improvements will be noticeable, as well.

Native Excavating's Ed MacArthur could not be reached Sunday to comment on the project.

The alley sewer line replacement will be the largest, most publicly visible project so far that's funded by the water and sewer rate increases Steamboat Springs City Council approved unanimously in September.

Along with increased tap fees for new construction, the multi-year fee increases will help fund initial phases of what could be as much as $70 million of water and wastewater improvement projects administered by the city.

Rates increased Jan. 1 and will increase in 2012 and 2013, as well. City officials will update rates and infrastructure costs in 2013.

Last week, Steamboat Springs City Council gave unanimous approval to the first reading of a financing plan for $11.9 million worth of water and sewer projects during the next three years. Through the plan recommended by city Finance Director Deb Hinsvark, the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority would issue bonds based on city utility revenues and then loan the bond funds to the city. The city would repay the debt through payments to the state authority.

Hinsvark said the state authority is very involved in the bond market and the financing plan would save the city about $250,000 in closing costs.

"They're bringing a market to us…and they'll help keep the interest rates down," Hinsvark said.

A second and potentially final reading of the financial plan is scheduled for City Council's next meeting, May 17.

To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or email

Go back to article