Granby " Some Moraine Park residents without water since Saturday
July 1, 2008
Disruption of water service recently to some Moraine Park users has focused attention on the system’s dependability.
A few of the 50 homeowners who use Moraine Park water supplied by Paul Geisendorfer’s private water system are feeling as though their water woes are being ignored.
By Monday, at least 10 residences on Avenue A had been without water since Saturday, according to Moraine Park’s licensed water operator Todd Conger of Water Dog LLC.
The community is considered an “island” of unincorporated Grand County land surrounded by the town of Granby.
System owner Jean Geisendorfer of Colorado Springs, Paul’s wife, says the problem stems from summer use taxing the system, not an undiscovered leak.
Two weeks ago Saturday a leak was located and repaired, and water pressure was returned to more than what the state required. Jean said the pressure was checked Monday morning to confirm.
Moraine Park residents are allotted 50 acre-feet per household for $40 a month, she said, but use runs unlimited because there are no meters to gauge what each household uses.
“It’s the cheapest water rate I know of,” she said, adding that water metering may be in the community’s future.
But Conger, who has been maintaining the system in addition to his position as water superintendent for the town of Fraser, said he is sure the loss of water service is from another leak in the antiquated water system.
The leak two weeks ago could have existed for longer than a year, and fixing it may have triggered another, he said. Since maps of the system are inadequate, it may take him time to find it, he said.
Some homeowners worry the Moraine Park system isn’t tested adequately, which Jean denied. All tests comply with state standards, she said, and the system has never had a problem save for an E. coli scare five years ago that turned out to be false.
An enforcement order was issued to Geisendorfer in September 2003 for failure to comply with the state’s primary drinking water regulations, which comply with the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
The order was in regard to the monitoring and the treatment of Moraine Park water, supplied by wells.
The state issued a boil order to homeowners to advise them that the quality of water could be suspect, since monitoring for acute contaminants was not being conducted.
The boil order was removed when Geisendorfer supplied water samples and the water was found to be safe, but there are still outstanding 2006 violations such as failure to issue annual confidence reports to water users.
Since 2003, a one-time judgment against Geisendorfer from the state attorney general has been issued in the amount to $365,000. With penalties and interest, the amount is closer to $500,000, and a lien has been filed against Geisendorfer’s water rights.
Jean says the lien is a “bookkeeping issue” and has little to do with the delivery of water.
The county has since researched whether Geisendorfer’s water rights are free and clear to transfer to another entity and has forwarded its findings to the attorney general, said County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran.
Underbrink Curran said the situation is now more in the state’s hands than in the county’s, although the county is attempting to facilitate in ways it can.
The state may be approaching the town of Granby again, she said, which in the past has shown little interest in annexing the community.
The county has helped homeowners along the way, such as paying the Moraine Park electric bill to keep water flowing to its users as well as assisting with repairs, but the county is not in the water delivery business, the county manager said.
Recently, the county facilitated a meeting that about 30 Moraine Park water users attended.
At the meeting, the notion of forming an association or district to take over the system was broached.
However, the limited interest homeowners showed for the idea fizzled shortly thereafter, Underbrink Curran said.
Another Moraine Park meeting is being organized through the county for mid-July in hopes of finding a long term solution.
“They can drill their own wells,” Paul Geisendorfer offered Monday as one possible solution.
In 2002, homeowners offered to double their water rates to help maintain and improve the system, which bumped monthly rates from about $20 to $40, according to one homeowner who’s lived in the subdivision since 1993. The increase was the first one since the system was installed in the 1970s. Homeowners feared rates were too low to look after the aging infrastructure.
Even with the increase, “The amount people are charged now barely and doesn’t really cover expenses,” Jean said.
Some homeowners may be resisting a Granby annexation due to the expense of hooking into town pipes, preferring the rates of Geisendorfer’s system.
And if Moraine Park water users dissatisfied with water service were to hook onto Granby water today (it would take approval of the Granby town board). The cost would be the out-of-town rate of a $9,000 tap fee per resident, a quarterly rate of $8 per 1,000 gallons plus a $24 quarterly fee, plus the cost of paying for connecting lines.
For many, that cost is out of reach.
Nevertheless, Jean says water users will be promptly notified “if there’s going to be any change of any kind,” such as “any changes in ownership or mechanics of the system.”
” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail email@example.com.