It’s not cheap to have safe drinking water or get rid of the used water
[ by Mark Reaman ]
Protecting and improving some of the major infrastructure in Crested Butte, the water and wastewater facilities in particular, is a rising priority as the town grows, but it will not be cheap. Over the next 20 to 30 years, potential project costs are expected to be in the $50 million neighborhood, with an immediate expenditure of about $10 million to $15 million being planned for the 2021 to 2025 timeframe—most of that slated to begin next year.
“This is important and has been needed to be done for a while,” Crested Butte Public Works director Shea Earley told the Town Council at a work session on November 16. “We started to see needed projects on the horizon so we felt getting some engineering help to vet the projects would be helpful.”
Leanne Miller of Carollo Engineering has been working with the department for the last four months to analyze and prioritize capital projects. “All the projects are important for maintaining reliable water and wastewater services,” she said. “Developing a 20-year master plan is a good idea in order to prioritize projects for phased implementation.”
Miller told the council that to replace the assets in those departments would cost between $54 million and $74 million. She said six high-priority projects were identified for both the raw water and drinking water infrastructure; 15 projects were tagged as high priority for wastewater treatment infrastructure.
Miller said the immediate plan is shaping up to start on four capital projects next year, given low interest rates available for loans. Other funding sources include potential state and federal grants.
The immediate projects include: 1) Enclosure of secondary treatment process, which includes odor control, process improvements and emergency generator upgrades; 2) Solids Building equipment replacement; 3) Lake Irwin Valve and Pipe Replacement; and 4) Compost Building Rehab.
Earley said the department will do whatever work it is able to do in the projects to save money, but “some projects are too big and take expertise and equipment beyond the town capabilities.”
While estimated engineering costs are included in the 2021 budget, Earley said the next step is to define details of projects to be done in the next five years.