Because the water treatment plant cannot meet current water-quality regulations, the city of Salida will need to spend $2-3 million on a project to improve the plant.

City staff presented details about proposed improvements during a recent city council work session.

The city has three supplies for water: the water treatment plant on CR 120, the galleries system off the South Arkansas River and the seasonal Pasquale Springs, across the Arkansas River from Marvin Park.

Water filtration only occurs at the treatment plant, City Administrator Dara MacDonald told council members. Water from the galleries and Pasquale Springs is chlorinated and sent into the system, she said.

The city constructed the current water treatment plant in 1959. MacDonald said the plant cannot meet water-quality regulations and also produce the 4 million gallons per day (MGD) of water it is designed to produce. She said the filter media and underdrains, which collect the water intake into the plant, are both at the end of their useful lives.

Currently, the plant is permitted to produce 4 MGD but is only utilized for up to 1 MGD, according to MacDonald. She said peak summer demand on the water system is about 2.7 to 2.8 MGD and is generally balanced among the city’s three water sources.

“The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has required either significant upgrades or a new backwash system to eliminate what they see as potential cross-contamination of the potable water entering the system,” MacDonald said.

“We live with the potable water and wastewater treatment plants in an increasing world of regulations. Even though the system has worked well for the last 60 years, new inspections breed new suspicion (and) things that need to be changed,” she said.

The project would replace the more than 20-year-old filter media and media troughs in the plant and the more than 50-year-old underdrain system, according to MacDonald. Other upgrades include replacing the flocculation and sedimentation equipment, enclosing the flocculation basin and clarifier, providing an “air scour” backwash system and upgrading the existing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) computer.

“The basic system of how we treat and filter the water that we use today would largely remain in place, and we would reuse a lot of the existing plant,” MacDonald said. “We have been working on the design and engineering for the project, and as we’ve gotten further into this, we’ve determined that the only way to accomplish it is to break it into two phases.”

Phase 1 would include work on the filter media, underdrains and air scour to be completed by May. Phase 2 would include work on flocculation and the SCADA system to be constructed by March 2015.

MacDonald said the city plans to begin prepurchasing equipment in October, because the Phase 1 equipment will take between 16 and 18 weeks to arrive.

The total projected cost of the Phase 1 improvements is $1,099,000. Phase 2 estimates range from $1,113,000 to $2,087,000, depending on the capacity and building type that council chooses for the project.

City staff presented three options for Phase 2, depending on how much money council chooses to spend and how much production capacity it wants to secure for the plant.

The first option calls for using the existing flocculation basin to house the new equipment, which MacDonald said would save significant expense. The project would include enclosing the flocculation basin and, if needed, the clarifier to eliminate the freezing, algae and wear the areas currently experience, MacDonald said.

The second option calls for using the clarifier to house the new equipment and planning for a 2 MGD production rate, but with the option of expanding to 4 MGD in the future, if needed.

The third option calls for using the clarifier to house the new equipment and planning for a 4 MGD production rate.

MacDonald said if Phase 2 costs are kept in the range of $1.2 million, the city can complete the project without incurring any debt or increasing rates.

With a $4.7 million debt in the water fund and 25 percent of the fund’s revenue obligated to annual debt service, MacDonald said the city is unable to take on additional debt at this time to finance any of the improvements.

The city was awarded a Department of Local Affairs grant for the project, totaling $969,900.

“Without the DOLA grant, we probably wouldn’t even be thinking about doing Phase 2 for several years,” MacDonald said. She said with the addition of the $1 million DOLA grant, staff thinks it’s possible to pursue the full project at this time.

MacDonald said the planned project would fully address the needs of the water treatment plant, and improvements wouldn’t be needed for many years to come.

Council gave direction to staff that they liked the second option, which would allow them to expand production at a later date if they felt it is needed. MacDonald said she would bring back revised estimates on the options after talking with the engineers.

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