With the snap of oversize scissors Wednesday at Santa Rita Park, the city of Durango signaled the completion of its most expensive construction project ever.
More than 50 residents, city employees and former and current city councilors cheered as Mayor Melissa Youssef cut a ribbon at the Santa Rita Wastewater Reclamation Facility, ending a yearslong, $58.3 million and voter-approved construction project.
“This is a very big deal,” Youssef said into a microphone. “This is a service project that needed to be done.”
The new treatment facility increased the city’s capacity to treat wastewater by 30%, said Interim City Manager Amber Blake. City staff operated the plant during construction, a feat Blake commended.
On an average day, the new plant can treat 3.26 million gallons of wastewater, said Patrick Radabaugh, senior assistant with the firm that designed the plant.
The facility has the capacity to serve more than 30,000 residents and uses less energy than the previous plant to produce a cleaner final product, he said.
Bob Wolff, who was on the water commission at the time, said Wednesday that the city got a low interest rate – 1.67% – that he said will save the city about $6 million over the life of the bond.
Judi Rodas, who attended Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting with her husband, Todd, said she thinks the wastewater plant might “max out real quick.” The couple have lived in La Plata County for 40-some years, and Judi Rodas said she’s seen growth in the past few years like never before.
Todd Rodas went to the ribbon-cutting Wednesday because “I wanted to see how the $59 million was spent,” he said.
“I’ve always been curious about how they’re going to pull it off,” he said. “It looks like they pulled it off.”