Grand County water protection presents update to BOCC |

Grand County water protection presents update to BOCC

At the Board of Commissioners meeting on Nov. 1 in Hot Sulphur Springs, Lurline Underbrink Curran, Water Specialist for Grand County, gave an update on the water protection projects.

Windy Gap Bypass

The Windy Gap Bypass / Lands in the Vicinity of Kremmling (ILVK) organization has submitted a request to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) for award money.

“It’s a strong grant,” said Curran. They are asking for $10 million as part of the award.

“We are hoping to get the majority of the money we are asking for,” she said.

As part of the award, 33-miles of Colorado River would be improved. Curran hopes that the money will be used for construction contracts that will benefit the economy in Grand County.


Learning by Doing (LBD) is moving forward, Curran said. During a panel discussion on Oct. 12 Grand County was recognized and complemented on the program. There was discussion about becoming a 501(c)(3) in order for the LBD project to have a more formal structure, Curran said. The next meeting for LBD is Nov. 30.

Grand Lake clarity

On Grand Lake clarity issues, Curran mentioned there will be a Pre-NEPA meeting in Jefferson County on Nov. 29. Katherine Morris, Grand County Water Quality Specialist, in her update to the BOCC regarding Grand Lake Clarity Adaptive Management, stated, “While we had a lot of data, it took a citizen to confirm that the lake and reservoir actually made a shift to undesirable color and low clarity, and to verify or ‘ground truth’ that the numbers we were seeing were corroborated by visitor experience. So, along with Grand County’s report comments, I have suggested that we ask [Grand County Water Information Network] GCWIN to collect photographs to further document the changes. Photography is tricky because it’s so dependent upon weather, sunlight, wave action, reflection, etc. We may be able to overcome these complications by photographing the secchi disk one foot below the water surface at each site, potentially with a waterproof camera or with the assistance of a view‐scope‐like tool.”


Morris also presented to the Board an update on the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and their discharge permit.

She will be meeting with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) about UPPR’s plans to submit a Class V injection well permit application. Morris has asked the state to participate in the meeting. The state has recent information on water sampling from discharge periods, Morris said.

Representatives from CDM Smith, the railroad’s consultant, Winter Park Water and Sanitation District (WPWSD), the Towns of Winter Park and Fraser are invited.

In the update memo for the BOCC Morris wrote:

“The treatment plant that is now under construction has a bathroom and faucet needing treatment, and will also produce a certain amount of centrate waste from the plant water treatment process that needs to be dealt with appropriately. UPRR applied to WPWSD to accept the waste stream and was granted a variance from the compulsion to connect because the waste will be classified “industrial” and would require reopening WPWSD’s permit and likely redesign of the plant. UPRR then applied to the county for an [onsite wastewater treatment system] OWTS, which we declined because this will include industrial rather than solely domestic waste. We have several concerns about the new application. It’s not clear that the plant has a source of potable water for the restroom. In addition, because there is no acknowledgement yet in the discharge permit of the organic contamination within the discharge, to our knowledge the plant was not designed to treat organics; we don’t know how much of a threat these organics pose; it’s not clear what will be the fate and transport of organics through the treatment process; and we don’t know how much of the organic pollutants will end up in the centrate that is destined for the OWTS. Furthermore, we have been informed that discharge events like the ones this fall, resulting from the annual tunnel cleaning operations, are likely to overwhelm the plant. If an OWTS is approved, what oversight will there be to ensure that highly concentrated discharges are actually processed through the plant? Finally, is an OWTS adequate to the task of safely breaking down any organics that survive treatment, or will they just concentrate in the vault or travel by groundwater through the relatively close connection to the Fraser River?”

Morris also stated that the work the UPPR was doing in the Moffat Tunnel appears to have ended.

“The permit enforcement unit at [Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment] CDPHE should have results from post filtration water testing to inform them about what contaminants are in the water. I’m a little concerned that they didn’t take pre‐filtration samples for analysis as well, and the full potential for contamination might not be demonstrated, so we’ll have to hope that the samples are representative. There have been some staff changes in the permits department and the Railroad’s new permit still appears to be on hold, which is probably for the best until the test results can be interpreted,” the update memo stated.

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