The Cedaredge trustees at their July 18 regular meeting will consider a new and unexplored option for siting and construction of its proposed new sewer plant.
The town has received an apparently unsolicited proposal from engineering firm Short Elliot Hendrickson Inc. (SEH) for evaluation of an option which has not been studied.
SEH thinks the town's current sewer plant site located off Old Goat Trail Road in Hart's Basin might be used for a new facility. The company has proposed a $21,780 study of the idea's technical aspects. The town board will discuss the proposal on July 18 and possibly act on it.
"The focus of the assessment will be to investigate ...improvements to the existing lagoon wastewater treatment facility," to comply with current regulations, states the SEH proposal.
As discussed during the trustees' work session on July 11, the SEH proposal offers the town two advantages: tentative hope of an affordable option for sewage treatment; and, the SEH plan is based on a radical departure from current planning that has guided the new sewer plant project to this point.
The appeal of SEH's idea, explained Dave Smith, public works director, is for a lower-cost way of getting the town's wastewater discharge into compliance with federal rules on phosphorus content. He explained that the SEH concept would employ construction of a small water treatment facility at far less cost than a new sewer plant. This facility would then treat the current plant's discharge to acceptable quality levels before releasing it to Fruitgrowers Reservoir via the Alfalfa Ditch.
The trustees' work session discussion brought into clear focus for the first time publicly the unaffordable cost of the town's current plan for an entirely new sewer plant.
"The money isn't there," said trustee Gene Welch. "Just take the cost of a new sewer plant and divide it by 2,200 residents and you will see that. We don't even have the money to match for the grants we need. It will take us 10 years to (accumulate) that money."
Welch and Katie Sickles, town administrator, noted that the $3.66 million estimated price of a new sewer plant also doesn't include land acquisition costs or reconstruction of the Jay Avenue bridge. Sickles added that to qualify for a big grant from the state, construction will have to begin within 12 months, and the town isn't ready for that. Smith added that odor containment for a new sewer plant located on the golf course would be another big added expense that hasn't been included in cost estimates to date. The SEH proposal states, "Costs associated with the new facility (current plans) are not economically feasible for the town."
Current planning for a new sewer plant has been based entirely on the notion that the town's lagoons must be moved out of Hart's Basin. There are two reasons for this, a technical one and a political one. Technically, the town's lagoons are in violation of EPA standards by dumping too much phosphorus into Fruitgrowers Reservoir, which has been classified an "impaired" water. Smith thinks the SEH plan might be able to eliminate the immediate problem of phosphorus by removing that, and other components from the treated effluent.
Politically, downstream neighbors don't like the idea of the town's wastewater ending up in the reservoir and on their irrigated farm fields. The political issues involve state and federal agencies and downstream valley residents who would prefer the town's treated wastewater flow elsewhere.
Trustee Ray Hanson said that he would want the affected downstream water users and any agencies involved to "sign off" on the SEH idea of discharging more highly treated water rather than moving the plant out of the Hart's Basin drainage.
Smith noted that the town has just received a five-year permit to operates its current lagoons, and that none of the agencies or downstream neighbors objected to the permit application. This gives hope, he noted, that with the five-year permit approval the town might have the chance to clean up its wastewater discharge for the current lagoons. If the SEH plan looks viable and the lagoons can produce a cleaner effluent discharge, political and regulatory pressure for moving the lagoons out of Hart's Basin might soften.
"Maybe they wouldn't mind if we were putting some really good water into the reservoir," Smith said.
The town is already far along with an engineer's site evaluation for a new sewer plant. Engineers on that study are currently conducting "geo-technical evaluation" of the trustees' favored location on property now being used as the 11th hole at Cedaredge Golf Club.
The SEH proposal states, "The planning update for the town's (new sewer plant) did not include a thorough investigation into reuse of the existing site." The SEH proposal would produce a draft report in four weeks. A final report would be submitted one week following the town's review of the draft. So, engineering work on the plan for an 11th hole site would either be suspended until the SEH study is completed; or, the town would end up with two different engineering firms working simultaneously on the same project, Sickles noted.
Smith explained that the SEH long-term idea is that once a water treatment component is added to the current lagoon treatment process, the lagoons themselves would be reconstructed and expanded on their current, 10-acre site.
During the July 10 work session, Trustee Welch said, "I don't want to be the one who says we won't look at the SEH proposal. I want the lagoons to remain in their current location, and our public wants them to remain there, too."blog comments powered by Disqus