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Sanitation district to spend $5.86 million on new plant
6/29/2007 By: Melanie Mazur
Members of the Bayfield Sanitation District Board voted Wednesday to start designing a new $5.86 million sequencing batch reactor (SBR) sewage treatment plant.
The vote is an important step in a year-long struggle the sanitation district has had to keep one step ahead of a state-mandated shutdown of building permits in Bayfield town limits.
Last year, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment ordered the Town of Bayfield to stop issuing building permits until it had plans in place to expand its sewage treatment facility. An immediate cleanup and takeover by the town of the sewer plant operations resulted in the state lifting the ban later that summer. But on Feb. 21, the town voluntarily stopped issuing sewer taps when monitoring of the town’s influent, or liquid coming into the plant, exceeded state limits.
On May 17, the town lifted that ban, but since then, only five new sewer taps have been issued, indicating a slowdown in local home construction.
That’s another worry for sewer board members, because they were counting on the $6,000 sewer taps helping pay for the new plant.
Board members decided to opt for the SBR plant because it fit within their budget. A state-of-the-art membrane bio-reactor (MBR) plant would clean sewage to standards higher than the state mandates, but would cost about $1 million more.
The other advantages of the SBR plant are that it can be constructed more quickly and uses less electricity than the MBR plant. It does require more manpower to operate, however.
“You’re looking at a Chevy versus a Cadillac,” said Greg Woodward of Stantech, the engineering firm hired to design the new plant.
The plant will be built on two acres near the current plant south of Joe Stephenson Park. The board decided to ask both the Town of Bayfield and Southern Ute Indian Tribe if they want to donate funding to help pay for the more expensive MBR option, but will need an answer within two weeks so the design stage can proceed.
There were a few bright spots Wednesday evening.
Town Manager Justin Clifton said the June measures of influent and effluent, the treated sewage water, were both within state limits, and the amount of water leaking into the system was reduced from last summer.
Town staff are conducting more tests at Tequila’s and Aspen Plaza after some initial tests there found high amounts of organic matter entering the sewage system. Riverside RV Park is putting in new concrete tanks to help treat sewage before it enters the system.
Clifton said some commercial customers, however, are facing soaring costs to pre-treat sewage before it enters the system. The Bayfield School District has said a preliminary report said they would need to spend $300,000 to pretreat sewage. Kris Oyler, owner of Steamworks Brewing Co., said his company could be looking at as much as $200,000.
This has led local business groups and real estate agents to complain to Clifton that requiring pre-treament could be a drain on the Bayfield economy and halt growth.
“Short term, we have to take some load off,” said Brad Elder, the board’s vice-president. He’s been a longtime advocate of purchasing a portable sewage treatment plant, but Clifton and other members of the board have wanted to see if improvements in the plant’s operations can do until a new plant is built.
“This time I really think we should check it out,” said Elder.
Ed Morlan, who heads the Region 9 Economic Development District, said a state community development grant could cover up to $300,000 of a pre-treatment system at Steamworks, and there’s a possibility other businesses could use the system as well.
Oyler said the brewery owns an adjoining lot to its site and could triple its capacity by 2012, but the sewage treatment is a stumbling block.
Morlan and Clifton agreed to pursue the grant.
The board also took one more step toward dissolving the sewer district, which the town wants to take over in 2008. The sewer district needs to hold a public hearing in Gem Village to obtain comments from residents served by the district who live outside town limits. Members voted 3-0 to pursue the dissolution.
The board also decided to ask a Bayfield Town Board Trustee to fill the board seat previously held by Mike Hoban, who died last weekend.