La Plata Archuleta Water District officials recently pitched a plan to build a joint water-treatment plant with Bayfield.
Dick Lunceford, president of the water district, told the town board that a joint venture could benefit both entities.
Bayfield needs a new treatment plant at some point here fairly soon, and of course, us having passed our mill levy, were going to be moving forward to deliver water to our customers, Lunceford said Tuesday.
Both the town and the district will be getting their water from Vallecito Reservoir via the Pine River. Rather than having two separate facilities drawing water from the same source, Lunceford proposed the district and town share construction and operating expenses based upon water sales to each entity.
The board agreed to enter into talks with the district, though trustees expressed some skepticism.
Trustee Dan Ford voiced cautious support, but he had concerns about the financial liability a joint operation could place on the town should the district fail to pay its share.
If it helps Bayfield plan for the future ... I would certainly want to know more about it, Ford said. But I think as much as anything, Id like to know that we have minimal risks for the water users of Bayfield.
Lunceford said the district will build a plant with or without a partnership with the town.
Bayfield Town Manager Justin Clifton put the towns current water-plant operations at just less than 80 percent capacity during peak use.
As the town grows, it has the option of expanding its existing plant, something Clifton said may or may not be a good idea.
Its probably not the best technology, and the package plants are generally not as reliable as ground, stick-built plants, he said of the current plant, which is a modular prebuilt plant. If were trying to look long-term into the future, we might need something significant like (an additional) filter in the next one to four years, and then how much capacity (do we need) long term?
Clifton said a new filter would cost about $1 million.
The district estimates its Bayfield plant will cost $5.3 million and will serve the east portion of the district. A second water-treatment plant is planned to serve the western part of the district, using Animas-La Plata Project water.
Lunceford said the district expects to collect slightly more than the $5.2 million in tax revenue next year.
District voters on May 4 approved a mill levy to pay for a water-distribution system in the district; the new tax will cost the owner of a $200,000 house about $7 a month.
Amy Kraft, associate engineer with Harris Water Engineering and consulting engineer for the district, said the district already has secured funding to complete the permitting process necessary for constructing the water-distribution lines, a process she said could take up to two years.
The districts moving forward, not fast, but as aggressively as they can now that they have passed the mill levy and have funds available to them, Kraft said.
Clifton and Lunceford both said the town still could partner with the district in other ways without building a full-blown treatment plant.
I think the next step, if theres interest, is to really start with a blank piece of paper and not have many ideas about what it would look like ... and see if something surfaces that makes sense, Clifton said.
The La Plata Archuleta Water District was created in 2008 to provide water to rural areas of eastern La Plata County and the western edge of Archuleta County. However, Kraft said service in Archuleta County is not included in short-term planning.
The district spans an area that approximately follows U.S. Highway 550 south of Durango to the state line and east to the La Plata-Archuleta county line. The northern border begins just north of where U.S. Highway 160 crosses the county line and runs west to just outside Grandview.