Granby: State rekindles case against Moraine Park water system owner
The Colorado Attorney Generals Office has rekindled its enforcement order against Moraine Park Water System owner Paul Geisendorfer, a senior citizen of Granby and Colorado Springs.Moraine Park, an island in unincorporated Grand County near Middle Park High School surrounded by the town of Granby, has a compliance history and enforcement history that is quite long concerning Geisendorfers privately owned water system, according to Lori Gerzina, section manager for the compliance assurance section of the Colorado Water Quality Control Division.An enforcement order was issued to Geisendorfer in September 2003 for failure to comply with the states primary drinking water regulations, which are consistent with the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The order was in regard to the monitoring and treatment of Moraine Park water. The system has 150 service connections in a subdivision with a population of 300 residents.Other homes in the subdivision are serviced 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, Gerzina said, 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. The state has invested a lot of time and effort into bringing this system into compliance to protect the health of the people, Gerzina said.The amount has not yet been paid.Gerzina assured condemning the water system and displacing the residents who use the water system is not the goal of the state.Were trying to negotiate a settlement of the case, Gerzina said.Geisendorfers attorney, David Fogel of Fogel & Bluestein, Denver, said the case has been dormant for some time and only recently has resurfaced.If the Attorney Generals Office hadnt lit the fire , it probably would have meandered like it has for several years, he said. He said his client is motivated to pursue a solution to the situation and see it to its conclusion.The goal of his client, as well as Grand County, Granby and the state, he said, is to eventually modernize (the system), update it and improve it.The water in Moraine Park is supplied via an aquifer, with water stored in two wells, delivered to homes by way of aging pipelines. Some residents of Moraine Park say their tap water actually tastes better than Granbys, such as resident Amy Jarbo. Neighbor Diane LeDuc echoed Jarbos opinion of the water. Both residents said they were not worried when a boil order was in place. LeDuc only boiled water for a few weeks, she said; Jarbo never boiled the water, trusting its source.What LeDuc does worry about is a break in the system. There is no water board at Morraine Park, and usually neighbors pitch in to fix problems in the lines, she said. A few years ago, users of the system decided to up our own rates from $20 a month to $40 a month, LeDuc said, to help Geisendorfer cover the rising costs of electricity and to help him maintain the system.Renter Rachel Beickman, the mother of three whos lived in Moraine Park three years, said she does worry about the water quality. Since notices from the state are sent to the owner of the property and not forwarded to her and her family, she feels uninformed.I just worry from the way it smells, she said. Sometimes it smells like strong bleach, and sometimes its fishy, neither of which is desirable in your drinking water. It makes me think that its not really being taken care of.Beickman added that every so often, their washing machine becomes clogged with sediment filtered from the water.The state isnt issuing judgment at this point to hammer anybody, Fogel said, reiterating that the water quality of Moraine Park is deemed acceptable by the state. The state is looking out for the best interest of its citizens. Were not offended by it, he said.County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran and County Attorney Jack DiCola met with Geisendorfer and Fogel Dec. 20, along with the countys water counsel David Taussig. Tom Rhone of the Colorado Attorney Generals office and Cathy Head of the Water Quality Control Division were also in attendance. Talks at this point about the system are friendly, Fogel said. It was not a hostile discussion.In debriefing the county commissioners about the meeting, Underbrink Curran said yesterday that the county could explore options for the subdivision such creating a local improvement district to take over the system, if the situation comes to that. The state has suggested where to find funding to help with such a project.The town of Granby, which in the past has had discussions with homeowners about how to help, has not been encouraged to annex the subdivision, according to Granby Mayor Ted Wang. The roads are not up to town standards, he said, the town would adopt an aging water delivery system, the subdivision does not have any commercial components and many of the homeowners have indicated they do not want the community annexed. In past years, the town offered to take over the water delivery system, but only if the town was able to secure Geisendorfers water rights along with it. This became a linchpin in past negotiations; and, the water system owner never conveyed water rights to the town, according to Wang. The town proposed to allow residents to tap into town water and pay out-of-town rates, but the water mains that service the neighborhood would have to be upgraded and paid for, but there has not been any resolution on who would do that, Wang said. Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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