Granby nears completion of new water treatment plant
If you take the turn off Highway 40 toward Middle Park Medical Center and continue straight down a dirt road what you’ll find is a work in progress.
There you’ll find the skeleton of a massive building, a myriad of construction workers hard at work atop scaffolding and piles of giant metal pipes strewn across the dirt. But come September, Granby will pump its first gallon of water through its new, state-of-the-art water treatment plant.
A year ago the town of Granby broke ground on a new $6 million water treatment facility to replace an antiquated well system that has been in place since the early 1980s.
South Service Area Water Superintendent Doug Bellatty says that the plant will become operational this September and that the project is currently under budget.
After extensive testing of the water quality in the south service area June 2013, the Colorado State Health Department determined that one of the wells featured ground water under the direct influence of surface water. Granby currently draws its water from an alluvial aquifer, which means that the wells sit in the riverbed of the Fraser River and pulls water from as far as 2,400 feet around. This offers an opportunity for contaminants such as high levels of iron and manganese to get into the water.
The South Service Area Water Department shut down the contaminated well, and decided that a new water treatment plant was the best long-term solution to the issue. The former system, designed in the early 80s, had seen very little treatment changes.
“We’re dealing with decades old technology, stuff that wouldn’t be approved by the state health department today,” Bellatty said.
With the new water treatment plant, however, the city will be well situated for any future compliance issues on the horizon. It also will handle the demand of increased construction and development for decades to come, he said.
Under the current system, water is treated at the four individual well sites. In September the wells will act as a raw water source feeding the new water treatment plant. The plant will use a membrane filtration system, which helps eliminate excess chemicals in the water. Every 90 minutes the chemicals are automatically neutralized and flushed into discharge ponds behind the facility, which also helps to replenish the aquifer.
The new facility will be able to produce 648,000 gallons of water per day at maximum capacity, and will serve all customers south of the Fraser River in the south service area.
The plant is being funded by a $2 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, $1 million from the SilverCreek Water and Sanitations District, $1.5 million from the town of Granby, and $1.5 million in the form of a low-interest loan from Granby. Bellatty said the loan will be paid back within 10 years.
Despite the $6 million price tag, Bellatty said he doesn’t anticipate rate hikes until at least 2019.
“Water is not an inexpensive endeavor; being able to pull it out of the river or out of the ground and being able to bring it to someone’s kitchen table,” he said. “ I know people have concerns about a structure like this and the costs associated with it. We’re going to do everything we can to the rate payers of the south service area to protect their concerns, and to insulate them from increases.”
Part of the reason prices are able to remain steady is because of a natural process called riverbank filtration. As water travels through the ground there are microorganisms that consume certain components that are undesirable in drinking water, meaning that water in Granby benefits from a free and natural treatment and few other chemicals are needed in the treatment process at the plant.
Bellatty also sees the plant to be an educational tool for the community — he wants people to understand how their water gets to them. An educational open house will be scheduled once the plant is completed.
The new treatment plant is expected to last for decades and should be able to support continued growth in the area.
“Nobody has ever complained about the taste of the water in the south service area,” Bellatty said. “This treatment plant is only going to enhance that. We’re ready for development when it comes. We have the capacity to serve.”
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