Million-dollar water project upgrades Moraine Park infrastructure
In Colorado, summertime often means construction.
From homes to highways the warmer months always herald the start of road delays and detours. This summer Granby is digging into a project on the northern reaches of the community in a section of unincorporated Grand County called the Moraine Park Subdivision, located just south and east of Middle Park High School on Avenues A, B and C.
The Moraine Park project, broken down into two phases, will replace a PVC water line system in the area with standardized municipal water pipe infrastructure. Along with replacing the water lines the project will add fire hydrants to the subdivision, as well as pressure release and shut off valves to independently isolate sections of the water line for any future repair or construction projects. In phase two of the project a new pump-house will be built with all the equipment necessary to safely pump groundwater into the system.
The project has been in the works for several years now as town, county and state officials negotiated amongst themselves and with the previous owner of the Moraine Park Water System, the Estate of Lew Paul Geisendorfer.
The Moraine Park Water System has been a contentious issue for over a decade. As early as 2003 the Water System was receiving enforcement orders for failure to comply with the state’s primary drinking water regulations, and specifically regarding the monitoring and treatment of the water in the Moraine Park Subdivision. While Moraine Park is technically part of Grand County, the area is billed for water through the Town of Granby that bills 50 different taps in the subdivision.
Granby Town Manager Wally Baird explained the need for the project.
“For the seven years I have been here Moraine Park has averaged a little over two water line breaks a year,” Baird said.
Because the pre-construction system had no shut-off valves repair work required shutting off water to the entire area.
This also prompted “boil water” notices for residents of the area. Baird also explained even though the water system was owned by the Estate of Lew Paul Geisendorfer, because of the number of people hooked up to the Moraine Park Water System it is considered a “public water system” and is required to meet all pertinent regulations thereof. In June of this year Granby took possession of the Moraine Park Water Distribution System, though the area remains a part of unincorporated Grand County.
When asked why the Town does not annex the subdivision, which is within their legal purview, Baird said, “the people who live there have asked the Town on several occasions in the last four not to be annexed.”
According to Baird, around 2010 the Colorado State Department of Public Health and Environment approached the town requesting they apply for grants to upgrade the system. Baird said the State also approached the county with a similar request to apply for grants that was denied.
“The Town of Granby was amenable to the work,” Baird said. “We also have a Water Department that can handle the project.”
In 2011 Granby applied for and received a Principal Forgiveness Loan that covered a large portion of the costs associated with the project. Baird explained the term “Principal Forgiveness Loan” is somewhat misleading in that the Town is not required to pay back the loan, which functions essentially as a grant to the Town.
Along with the Principal Forgiveness Loan, Granby also received a $200,000 Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) grant, totaling about $940,000. At that time bids were sent out for the project. When the lowest bid received by Granby came in above the amount already budgeted the project was broken into two separate phases of construction and Granby began looking into additional grants from DOLA. DOLA informed the town they could likely provide an additional $200,000 grant but needed a $200,000 match for approval.
Baird explained that an agreement, previously worked out between the county, Granby and the Estate of Geisendorfer specifically stated Granby would not put any municipal funds into the project. The county then agreed to put forth $200,000 in matching funds for the grant. The total budget for the project is estimated to cost $1,341,000. All of the funding for the project, except for the $200,000 match from the county, came in the form of DOLA grants and the Principal Forgiveness Loan.
Work on Phase One of the project is already under way and is being handled by Conroy Excavating, of Tabernash. Town officials hope to have Phase One completed by the end of September. Phase Two of the project should be completed by the end of June 2016.
The project will likely have an impact on water rates for residents of Moraine Park, though not immediately. Water customers of the subdivision are currently charged at a rate of about $60 per month. Baird said after the project is completed and a use and billing record is established under the new system, he expects rates to drop somewhat.
“I think after we get some history there the water rates will be much closer to the Granby North Service Area water rates,” he said. “Those rates are about $40 a month.”
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