Colorado-Big Thompson Project to receive $14 million in stimulus money | SkyHiNews.com

Colorado-Big Thompson Project to receive $14 million in stimulus money

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News File Photo

The Colorado Big Thompson Project is poised to get $14 million in stimulus funds out of a total $1 billion delivered to the Bureau of Reclamation, and Grand County is hoping a portion is used to enhance Grand Lake water quality.

The C-BT funds will be used to refurbish penstocks located west of Loveland, according to the Bureau. The penstocks deliver water from the Pinewood Reservoir to the Flatiron Power Plant, where the water is either pumped to fill Carter Lake or is used to generate hydroelectricity.

The Bureau plans to use the American Recovery funds to reapply a weather-proof coating, last applied in 1952, on the above-ground pipes to protect them for another 50 to 60 years, said Bureau spokesperson Kara Lamb. Because the old coating is full of lead and asbestos, extreme measures must be taken in the disposal of old material, she said.

But Grand County is asking that $100,000 to $200,000 of the C-BT stimulus money be spared, according to an April 23 letter the county manager sent to the Bureau’s eastern Colorado area manager.

The money is needed for an appraisal plan, the county’s letter states, which might become the first step toward a solution to Grand Lake’s water quality problems. County officials have called the lake’s water quality “an environmental disaster that needs to be fixed.”

In recent years, Grand County has taken the stance that water delivery through the lake, a natural lake made part of the C-BT system about 70 years ago when the system was approved, is degrading the lake’s clarity.

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“We would respectfully ask that within the $14 million funding allowance, the Bureau might be able to divert up to $200,000 of this funding to begin the appraisal process,” County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran wrote.

The Bureau has told county officials the agency could start the process without congressional go-ahead, but due to budget timing, the Bureau’s first opportunity to assign needed funds would be in 2012.

“The Grand Lake/Three Lakes water quality and clarity issue is also associated with the C-BT project and while not a physical improvement to deliver water or produce power, nonetheless equally important to the C-BT project as a whole,” the letter states.

Unable to comment specifically on the county’s request, Lamb said, “What I do know is that money given to the (Bureau) came with specific guidance on how were are going to spend it.”

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@skyhidailynews.com.

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