Saguache Outlines $2.2 Million Water, Sewer Projects
By Kathy Bedell, © Saguache Today
Colorado regulates its water in a unique manner, different from many other states in America. So when it comes to water use, and water rights it’s best to remember the phrase: “First in Use, First in Right.”
In short, the term refers to the early settlers in Colorado; if they were the first to use the water, then they (for the most part) will maintain the senior water rights for that resource. For the San Luis Valley, that regulation provides some solid benefits considering many of the state’s water rights tabulations for the Valley appear on page one. After all, Valley Pioneers were the first ones to put the water to use.
Of course, water rights and laws are much more complicated than a simple catch phrase, but it’s a good point of reference as the discussions and solutions to the water and sewer projects continue and are put into motion for the Town of Saguache, starting in March 2017.
On November 19, Saguache Town Administrator Pam Fye discussed the plan for the Saguache Water Augmentation & Sewer Replacement Projects, scheduled to begin in March 2017.
The plan is to have the augmentation plan filed with the state by December 31, 2016, as “we want to stay ahead of any kinds of fines,” explained Fye at the Annual Planning Meeting for the Saguache Chamber of Commerce.
The entire presentation can be seen in this Saguache Today video. The following information contains the highlights from Fye’s presentation. The Town Board will be holding a Public meeting on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 6:30 p.m. to continue to educate the public about the status of the water and sewer projects and how residents can be better prepared and know what to expect. SEE Agenda for Dec. 1 Meeting: HERE.
- October 2015 – The Town employed water attorneys Berg, Hill, Greenleaf, Ruscitti, LLP
- October 2015 – The Town employed Clear Water Solutions to assist with water rights, planning, and engineering.
- December 2015 – The town received memorandum quantifying are injurious, well pumping depletions using the Rio Grande Decision Support System (RGDSS) response function models.
- February 2016 – The Town held a special session with water attorneys and engineers to explore options for meeting augmentation requirements locally.
- May 2016 – The Town met with water attorneys and engineers, as well as the division engineer’s office in Alamosa and the Colorado Division of Water Resources to discuss options for augmenting the town’s ground water use.
- September 2016 – The Town held a special session held to hear options from water attorneys and engineers, followed by discussion and an eventually vote on augmentation approach. The Town voted to use the Response Function Approach which includes quantifying injurious depletions to area streams using response functions included in the RGDSS Groundwater Model and replace the substations with sources available to the streams.
Under this approach the town will have to make replacements during each month of the year to the Rio Grande but only during irrigation season months (April to October), as well as to Saguache Creek and San Luis Creek. The Town may also be able to claim credit for lawn irrigation return flows (LIRFs) when residents and businesses in town use ditch water during the irrigation season to water lawns and gardens a large percent of that water accrues to the unconfined aquifer.
- Town must ensure its pumping levels do not exceed the 1978 to 2000 average in future years (202) acre-feet per year)
- Take steps to reduce groundwater pumping
- Encourage use of Gotthelf Ditch No.1 water rights for irrigation purposes (lawn and garden)
- Acquire additional water rights or contract with other entities to operate and administer the delivery of the replacement water outside of the Saguache Creek area.
- Installation of meters on residential and business taps.
Town of Saguache Water Use
- This averages 233,541 gallons per day or 677 gallons per account/residents per day. In order to meet the augmentation planned, the Town of Saguache needs to stay below 202 acre-feet per year.
Where is the Town’s Plan Now?
- The town applied for and received two grants for the engineering and assessment portion of the sewer project one from the department of local affairs for $25,000 and one from the Colorado Dept of Public Health and Environment for $10,000.
- The engineering and assessment has now been completed with the exception of the financing plan.
- The engineering and assessment for the rehabilitation of Saguache water waste collection system is to utilize a combination of slip-lining and mainline replacement.
- Also associated with this will be the replacement of selected manholes. Main lines that are not candidates for successful slip-lining due to the degree of deterioration will be removed and replaced.
- Service lines will be re-established and reconnected with proper watertight connections.
- Street paving and were surface restoration to pre construction will be included.
At this point in the planning and assessment stage, it is estimated that the capital cost for the complete project will be approximately $2.2 million. This number allows for an 80% replacement and 20% slip-lining of sewer infrastructure.
Once this project is implemented, explained Fye, the Town should see future savings as ongoing operation and maintenance repair costs will be eliminated. The engineers estimate that there will be a reduction in yearly operations and maintenance cost due to less frequent blockages due to roots and elimination of flooding the wastewater treatment plant due to infiltration of groundwater.
- It was originally planned to begin the rehabilitation project in May 2017. However with the completion of the project needs assessments and the determination that the problem is so much worse than originally suspected the town and the engineers would like to begin the project as early as March 2017.
- An additional reason for moving the project forward is due to the timing of the sub-water recession.
- The town started the PRI (Primary Rate Interface) qualification process this past spring for one million dollar grant through CDPHE and a long-term low interest loan for the balance. The town is currently seeking emergency funding sources to move the project up a can still rule to January 2017.
Phase I – Phase one of the construction project will cost approximately $82,000 and will get the Town of Saguache “the most bang for the buck,” explains Fye, as it will eliminate the largest percent of infiltration of groundwater and will be mostly slip lining.
- Phase I will begin on Pitkin Ave., Christy Ave., and San Juan Ave., east of Highway 285 to 1st Street.
- The majority of phase one will be slip line but will also consist of some replacement
- With slip lining there will be disruption of sewer service during business hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. you will not be able to use your wastewater systems (sinks, washing machine, showers, tubs and toilets) during these hours
- The Town will post notices on each area of 24 hours prior to the disruption. These disruptions should be limited to 1 to 2 blocks per day
- The repairs will require heavy equipment so Saguache residents can expect noise from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and some street blockage as needed during this time.
Stay tuned to Saguache Today for additional updates and notices regarding public meetings!