Granby " Moraine Park water users: ‘Enough is enough’
July 22, 2008
Moraine Park homeowners Bo and Donna Jones haven’t had water in their home since June 27.
“Thank God for good neighbors,” the couple said Monday night after a two and one-half hour meeting covering options for coping with the neighborhood’s public water system, controlled by system owner Lew Paul Geisendorfer since the early 1970s.
Because of a leak that cropped up after two others were recently fixed, the couple has been trading off hooking up to their neighbors’ water by way of a hose.
The Jones’ part-time neighbors next door also are without water, they said, and the homeowners behind them “just have a dribble of water.”
The Joneses have been hooked onto Geisendorfer’s water system since 1979. “There’s a lot of problems we’ve gone through, but this one here aggravates me the most,” said Donna.
“Enough’s enough,” said Bo.
Given their choice, they say they’s tap into the town of Granby’s water system. Moraine Park is an island in unincorporated Grand County, surrounded by Granby.
As many as a dozen of their Moraine Park neighbors attended a meeting hosted by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment in Granby Monday night.
Also present were county, town of Granby, and Colorado Department of Local Affairs officials.
Sitting stage left was Geisendorfer, accompanied by counsel.
“Mr. Geisendorfer is not in the position to operate his system in a way that we think is best to deliver safe water,” said Tom Roan with Water Quality Control Division of the state health department. “We hope that we can get a new system owner that can operate this system.”
Moraine Park water users have had a bottled water order in place most of the summer due to the state’s belief that the neighborhood’s water is not safe to drink.
According to the system’s current licensed operator Todd Conger ” who Roan commented was not in place when the state issued Geisendorfer an injunction against the system and personal property ” the system is antiquated and patched together with inappropriate materials that are failing because of corrosion caused by the necessary use of chlorine.
The state health department first penalized Geisendorfer in 1999 for failure to monitor contaminants in the system, fed from five lakes through three wells. To date, after a series of penalties, Geisendorfer’s fines amount to $375,000, minus interest accrued.
“Geisendorfer has done a minimal amount of work to comply with the order,” Roan said. “We have what I would characterize as marginal amount of compliance. That’s what we had until the total system failure.”
Geisendorfer’s recent offer to the state is to convey water rights to a successor to run the system in exchange for forgiveness of the penalties, according to Roan. The state is saying that such negotiations are “not out of the question.”
Granby officials at the meeting, including Mayor Jynnifer Pierro, new Town Manager Wally Baird, Attorney Scott Krob and trustees Ed Raffety, Deborah Shaw and Elaine Henrekin, voiced that they were willing to work with Moraine Park homeowners if homeowners decide they want to patch into the town’s water system. Asked if well-users in the community would be forced to tap into the town’s system, Krob relayed that although system use is town code, in annexation agreements, concessions are made to benefit both parties.
Department of Local Affairs Regional Manager Greg Winkler stated that the benefit of Moraine Park homeowners becoming part of the town would be that doors open to grants and state and federal loans, whereas a decision to form a special district would negate help available only to government entities.
Geisendorfer has offered to convey 50 acre-feet per year of his water rights, which he says is “three times what (Moraine Park) is using now.”
Engineers say they don’t know how much water the neighborhood consumes annually.
But the county and town maintain that the source of the water system must also be conveyed to guarantee wells can be recharged.
“It’s all or nothing,” Krob said. Mayor Pierro and Grand County Water Engineer David Taussig concurred.
At the notion that homeowners may be organizing and conceding to seek help since attempting to find a solution in 2002, state drinking water enforcement specialist Cathy Head said she was encouraged by the direction Moraine Park water users exhibited at the meeting. In 2002, a deal was struck to find a solution when the issue of water rights became the linchpin that broke the deal.
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