Sewer utility capacity issue looming in Mt. CB

Major infrastructure issue needs addressing as developments move forward

By Mark Reaman

As more development proposals kick into the next gear in Mt. Crested Butte with projects like the Village at Mt. Crested Butte (formerly the North Village) and Prospect Ridge, a major sewer utility issue has come up. As currently established, there may not be enough capacity in the existing sewer infrastructure to handle much more wastewater in the pipes used to get sewage flows from homes and commercial properties to the wastewater treatment plant.

As part of last week’s planning commission review for the proposed Village at Mt. Crested Butte development, the issue came to light in a memo from the Mt. Crested Butte Water and Sanitation District consultant working on the project. The utility engineering consultant from HDR Inc. raised the red flag that the main sewer line running the length of town is already near maximum capacity at certain times of the year and might not be able to handle a major increase in wastewater flows.

HDR project manager Jamie Eichenberger wrote that “…of particular concern is the capacity of the main sanitary sewer interceptor that is in Gothic Road. HDR completed a hydraulic analysis of the sanitary sewer system, and the line is currently at or near capacity along sections of the interceptor when considering existing customers and previously approved, but not built, service connections. The modeling results indicate that there is little to no remaining capacity to support additional development. Some smaller development may be accommodated depending on its location and where it connects to the interceptor, but the interceptor does not have the capacity to accept additional large developments.

“The interceptor will have to be replaced to increase the capacity before additional development should be approved. Preliminary modeling indicates the interceptor line may have capacity limitations from Prospect Drive down to the wastewater facility at 100 Gothic Road.”

That main sewer line is about two miles in length and runs along, and at times underneath, Gothic Road at varying depths. 

There are many elements to the issue, with the main one being the diameter of the pipe and what it and the sewer plant can handle during peak times of the year, especially during the spring runoff. 

The Mt. CB Water and Sanitation district recently completed a major expansion to its water treatment plant. Along with the Village proposal, another major development proposal, Prospect Ridge, is starting to work its way through the town and district review process. 

Mt. CB Water and Sanitation district manager Mike Fabbre said that the board is aware of the situation, and it has been discussed at several meetings. He said that the district is in the process of gathering more data on the situation. “The district acknowledges that the issue will need to be addressed and the memo was forwarded for full transparency to our community,” Fabbre said. “We are in the process of gathering additional information to evaluate the potential developments and their impacts on all aspects of the district.”

The HDR memo concludes by stating that “In conversations with the District, the intent is to have development pay its own way. Design and construction of the interceptor improvements will be required prior to allowing any additional large developments…It is recommended that a detailed plan and schedule for addressing capacity in the interceptor be required from the developer prior to approval of any new development in the District. Additional water and sewer system improvements may also be required pending review of the comprehensive development plan.”

Village at Mt. Crested Butte project manager Crockett Farnell of Black Dragon Development said the development team has met with district officials and the hope is that the situation could be resolved about the time the development is ready to hook up to sewer services in a couple of years. He said the Village team is willing to work with the district to help resolve the issue. 

The Water and San District is a separate governmental entity from the town of Mt. Crested Butte.

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