Discharge from Moffat Tunnel concerns Winter Park officials | SkyHiNews.com

Discharge from Moffat Tunnel concerns Winter Park officials

Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News

Union Pacific Railroad, which operates the Moffat Tunnel, has been draining water from the west portal of the tunnel into the Fraser River without a discharge permit.

The water from the tunnel contains certain materials and contaminants that the water picks up along its path. Some estimate the contaminated water has been flowing into the Fraser River for quite some time.

Union Pacific Railroad (UPR) is now applying for a discharge permit for the west portal of the Moffat Tunnel from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, a permit that is required for any entity discharging into the watershed. It will require that the water be treated prior to flowing into the Fraser River.

Winter Park Town Planner Drew Nelson told Town Council members yesterday that he has drafted a letter to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment stating concerns about UPR’s application for the permit. In the application, UPR requested variances from certain requirements in the permit process, such as waiving the need to remove suspended solids from the discharge.

Nelson stated in the letter that a number of water systems, such as local water treatment plants, utilize the Fraser River for drinking water purposes, and any reduced treatment of UPR’s discharge shifts the burden of treatment and removal of contaminants to those plants.

Extra pollutants would also further contaminate the Fraser River, which is already listed as endangered.

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“Significant efforts have been made to remove pollutants and materials from the Fraser River …” the letter states. “We believe that it is in the public’s interest for UPR to meet the same standards that others are striving to meet in the Fraser River Watershed.”

Nelson’s letter asked the Colorado Department that UPR be held to the most stringent water quality discharge standards in the Colorado Water Quality Control Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. Town Council approved the letter.

Hideaway Park design fees costing more than originally anticipated

The design for Hideaway Park has undergone numerous changes since Town Council members first met with members of Design Concepts, the company in charge of the park’s design. The changes have resulted in a large increase in fees, said Town Engineer Chuck Swanson.

The original fee estimate for Design Concept’s services was about $112,000, which was based on an estimated project cost of $1.2 million for the park. The cost of the park, however, has now grown to $2.8 million, and Design Concepts is requesting their fee be increased to roughly $295,000.

Swanson stated in a memo that the typical design services fee is in the range of 7 percent to 12 percent of the estimated project cost. “So, their new total fee is within the accepted range for this project,” he stated.

Swanson added that the town has asked for major changes throughout the design, including a new restroom facility, which was not part of the original scope. The Design Concepts staff has also attended more meetings than it originally anticipated.

“In light on how this project has expanded … I feel the request for additional fees are warranted,” Swanson said.

While no one disputed outright the increase in fees, some were confused about what the policy is with changes. Town Council Member Rusty Thompson asked Swanson if the original contract with Design Concepts stated its policy on changes, to explain the basis of the money spent. Town Council members agreed to discuss the contract at the next study session with Design Concepts.

Update from recreation district

Cyndy Flores, executive director for the Fraser Valley Recreation Metropolitan District, told council members that three requests for proposals went out last week for the architectural engineering firm selection and owner’s representation for the Community Enhancement Project. The district is moving forward, she affirmed, despite the pending lawsuit. Bond sales are expected to take place in January.

Local asks for support for hiring an environmental officer

Lenny Brooks, a Grand Lake resident, asked Town Council Tuesday for a letter of support to hire an environmental code officer for Grand County.

Brooks explained that in Grand Lake, many people use a chemical called Carbaryl to spray their trees to protect them from the pine beetle. Brooks said he has done considerable research on Carbaryl and believes it to be a neurotoxin that has long term detrimental effects on the ecosystem and people with neurological disease.

A code officer could help monitor the amount of spraying people are doing, Brooks said, and if sprayers are following regulations required by the chemical being used.

“There’s not anyone monitoring what’s going on with all of this spraying,” he added.

Brooks said he received a letter of support from the towns of Grand Lake and Granby, and expects to go before the county Jan. 2.

Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Myers said he had a hard time supporting the hire of an enforcement officer.

“I don’t want to spray this chemical into the air (either)… (but) I see this as another controlling agency,” Myers said.

“Is there someone you can just light a fire under as opposed to creating another layer?” asked Town Council member Mike Periolat, adding the county already had an enforcing agency under its Department of Natural Resources.

Town Council member Chris Seemann also pointed out that the town is in “cutting mode, not spraying mode,” so Grand Lake’s situation is different than Winter Park’s.

Seemann said he’d rather see a proposal that bans the chemical, if it truly is that detrimental to the environment, he added, as opposed to supporting Brook’s entire proposal. Also, it would be good to know what type of chemical sprayers are using, he agreed.

Winter Park Mayor Nick Teverbaugh brought the discussion to a close by requesting the topic be put on the next Mayors, Managers, Commissioners meeting, which takes place in February. That way the topic can be discussed “among all the governmental entities,” Teverbaugh said.

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