Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade

The City must resolve waste water treatment violations to avoid severe financial penalties and adverse environmental effects. The plant currently operates at a lower capacity than is permitted due to inefficiencies and does not meet ammonia limits currently imposed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Built in 1956 and renovated in 1985, it does not have the components necessary to meet ammonia standards and to supply sufficient capacities for the communities served, Salida and Poncha Springs. The aging facility’s concrete and mechanical equipment is deteriorating, it lacks efficient energy conservation and is approaching the end of its service life.

During 2008, the City’s engineering firm completed a study of the wastewater treatment facility. Recommendations for a major upgrade of the facility were presented to the council in January 2009. The facility operates at a lower capacity than is permitted due to inefficiencies and it does not meet ammonia limits currently imposed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).  Built in 1956 and renovated in 1985, the facility does not have the components necessary to meet ammonia standards or to supply sufficient capacities for the communities served. The aging facility’s concrete and mechanical equipment has deteriorated; it lacks efficient energy conservation; and it is approaching the end of its service life. Salida must resolve its wastewater treatment violations to avoid severe financial penalties and adverse environmental effects to the Arkansas River where the effluent is discharged.

A number of presentations have been made to update council members and the public on the need for the upgrade and the cost of the project. In addition, the City was awarded a DOLA grant for $1.35 million. Approximately 90% of those funds were used in 2009 to begin purchasing the new equipment needed for the project.

Late in 2009, we began meeting with representatives from the USDA Rural Development about the remaining funding needed for the project. The USDA program requires the City to obtain interim financing during the construction period that is refinanced with a “permanent” federal loan once the project is completed. The USDA program presented an opportunity for additional grant funding and a below-market interest rate for the loan. Lower financing costs equate to a reduction in the overall project cost and lower rates for users of the sewer system.

The City’s engineers are finalizing the drawings and specifications with the USDA engineer. Bidding is expected to begin in mid September. The earliest we expect to award the project and begin construction is early November.