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State to hold public hearing on discharge permit renewal

Neighbors voice concerns with Mt. CB Water and Sanitation permit

By Mark Reaman

A public meeting on the draft discharge permit for the Mt. Crested Butte Water and Sanitation District will be held on Monday, April 8 in Crested Butte.

Holding a physical public hearing is a somewhat unusual move in this area but according to the notice on the state Water Quality Control Division website, the hearing was requested by the Saddle Ridge Ranch Estate Water Company and the Moon Ridge Homeowners Association.

Michael Beck of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said, “The CDPHE Water Quality Control Division probably holds about one of these a year for individual permits, but it goes up and down.”

Moon Ridge subdivision residents have expressed their concern that discharge from the Mt. Crested Water and Sanitation treatment plant has been possibly contaminating their water and the water quality in general in Washington Gulch.

The Mt. Crested Butte Water and Sanitation District has disputed that claim.

“The Moon Ridge subdivision residents have voiced concern that effluent discharge from the Mt. Crested Water and Sanitation treatment plant has the possibility of contaminating their water and a continued degrading of the water quality in Washington Gulch if the Mt. Crested Butte Water and San District does not accept and implement the permit renewal as set forth in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s proposed permit renewal dated December 13, 2018,” explained Joe Knox of Moon Ridge.

Knox continued, “The Mt. Crested Butte Water and San District has disputed that claim and has made numerous objections to the terms and conditions contained in the proposed permit renewal as written by the State. Therefore there is a need for the public hearing.”

The state’s public comment period on the discharge permit review began in December of last year and there were separate periods for responsive comments and a rebuttal comment period, in which the district participated. Mt. Crested Butte Water and Sanitation district manager Mike Fabbre said the district is not taking the accusations lightly.

“The district has submitted factual evidence to the state during the public comment period, the responsive comment period, and the rebuttal comment period,” explained Fabbre. “The district has clearly refuted the false claims by the Moon Ridge HOA and will continue to do so. They have stated twice now in their public comments that there are not stream standards on Washington Gulch. We have responded that there are stream standards for Washington Gulch, pointed out they are contained in the Water Quality Assessment of our draft discharge permit, and identified that we are meeting all of those standards.”

Fabbre continued, “They are also falsely claiming that our Waste Water Treatment Facility [WWTF] is the cause of E. coli issues in Washington Gulch while providing information that documents the stream is actually meeting the E. Coli standard. Our WWTF has never violated the E. coli state-mandated parameter in our permit, and we have years’ worth of laboratory data to support that claim. The consensus from local experts is that the levels of E. coli in Washington Gulch are coming from non-point sources such as unregulated camping in Washington Gulch, where there are limited outhouses, cattle, wildlife, and dogs on the Rec Path. We look forward to the opportunity to discuss our draft discharge permit with the community during the public meeting conducted by the Water Quality Control Division.”

The state notice explains that “The division is hosting this public meeting to provide a venue for interested parties to comment regarding draft permit CO0027171 or any comments raised in the public comment or responsive comment period.”

The meeting will be held in the Crested Butte Town Council meeting room on Monday, April 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. Comment times will be limited to three minutes per person.

Beck said the CDPHE Water Quality Control Division permit writer and Permitting Section management will attend the public meeting. The meeting will also be recorded. No decision on the draft permit will be made at the meeting. Beck said there was no timeline in place for analyzing the comments and issuing a response or decision to the draft permit concerns.

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