Town of Winter Park’s letter regarding Union Pacific’s Moffat Tunnel discharge permit
Union Pacific Railroad ” Moffat Tunnel Discharge Permit Application ” Permit No. CQ-0600684
Please accept this letter as written comments from the Winter Park Town Council regarding Union Pacific Railroad’s (UPR) application for a discharge permit from the West Portal of the Moffat Tunnel into the Fraser River.
The proposed Authorization to Discharge is of great concern to residents of and visitors to the Town of Winter Park, Winter Park Resort and the Fraser Valley. The Fraser River has been and will be an integral component to the quality of life in Grand County, and communities in the Upper Fraser Valley continue to work to preserve and enhance the quality and quantity of water in this vital artery. The Fraser River provides drinking water as well as environmental and aesthetic benefits for our residents and visitors, and therefore any Authorization to Discharge should provide the greatest protection possible to the communities that will be affected the most.
The Town of Winter Park would offer the following comments for review by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE):
The requested variances from requirements to remove suspended solids from the discharge are of great concern to the Town of Winter Park. Significant efforts have been made to remove pollutants and materials from the Fraser River, including the construction of a sedimentation pond upstream of UPR’s proposed discharge point that utilized 319 Grant monies from the CDPHE. We believe that it is in the public’s interest for UPR to meet the same standards that others are striving to meet in the Fraser River watershed.
The amount of water available for dilution in the Fraser River should be considered by the CDPHE. The Fraser River is significantly affected by transmountain diversions from the Western Slope to the Front Range. Efforts are currently underway to transmit additional water to the Front Range via the Moffat Tunnel, meaning that less water will be available to dilute the pollutants proposed to be discharged into the Fraser River. The Water Quality Assessment (WQA) submitted with this Authorization to Discharge states, “Due to the small available dilution analyses indicate that assimilative capacities are limited”. The proposed variances, combined with the reduced flows that will occur due to increased diversions to the Front Range, would combine to only further hinder the capabilities of the Fraser River to dilute materials from UPR’s proposed discharges.
A number of water systems utilize the Fraser River for drinking water purposes. Any reduced treatment of UPR’s discharge only shifts the burden of treatment and removal of contaminants to these systems. UPR does not contribute to the treatment of water for these systems; therefore, the financial and regulatory responsibilities fall to communities that are not creating the problem. The increased costs of UPR’s actions directly affect the bottom line of the residents and property owners that utilize these water systems, and future land development potential in the Winter Park area may be impacted by treatment capacity issues. There is no viable reason as to why these systems should be responsible for treatment when they gain no benefit from UPR’s activities.
Public service providers in Grand County are also concerned about the “tail end” of water supply systems-treatment in our sanitary sewer plants. Due to diminished flows in the Fraser River, dilution of effluent to meet the standards of the CDPHE becomes significantly more difficult. The separation of points of diversion (for supply) and discharge (for sanitary treatment) create “holes” in the Fraser River in which meeting water quality standards becomes an issue for our local water providers. Again, the burden of meeting these standards falls upon the communities affected by UPR’s activities, and these communities receive no tangible benefit from UPR’s activities.
Communities in the Upper Fraser Valley and Grand County have taken great steps to preserve and enhance the Fraser River. The Towns of Fraser and Winter Park, in conjunction with grant dollars from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), recently completed a multi-faceted improvement project. The Fraser River Enhancement Project (FREP) sought to improve the Fraser River’s aquatic habitat on over 6 miles of publicly-owned stretches of the river. Any discharge into the Fraser River threatens to negatively impact the hard work and millions of dollars spent on this project.
Organizations representing taxpayers in Grand County have been working together to acquire additional water resources to supplement flows in the Fraser River. The cost of purchasing water rights this high in the watershed (where no other rights are available) is significant, and we are relying not only on our own dollars but those of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) for assistance in augmenting our existing water flows. These flows are to be set aside for environmental and aesthetic purposes, and a lack of treatment of discharges by UPR could impact these waters that we have spent considerable dollars acquiring.
With these issues in mind, the Town of Winter Park respectfully requests that UPR be held to the most stringent water quality discharge standards in the Colorado Water Quality Control Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The Town also requests that no variances from standards related to removal of suspended solids be granted to UPR as part of this Authorization to Discharge. We believe that the issues noted in this letter are of great concern to all of the communities in Grand County, and should be weighed by the CDPHE as part of this process.
We greatly appreciate the CDPHE’s consideration of our concerns, and hope that UPR’s activities will have no effect on the Fraser River. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Harold N. Teverbaugh
Winter Park Town Council Grand County Board of County Commissioners Denver Water Board Winter Park Resort Town of Fraser Board of Trustees
Town of Granby Board of Trustees Kremmling Town Council East Grand Water Quality Board Winter Park Water and Sanitation District Grand County Water and Sanitation District
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