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A chance to clear the air in Glenwood Springs

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The air down by Seventh Street could smell a bit sweeter in 2012 when a new wastewater treatment plant goes up in West Glenwood Springs.

People can learn a bit more about it and offer their opinions at an open house the city is hosting Wednesday.

The new plant is being called the most expensive project Glenwood’s ever undertaken. A cost estimate came in at $35 million. The local engineering firm Schmueser, Gordon and Meyer, and a Front Range firm called Rothberg, Tamburini and Winsor were awarded almost a $1 million contract for the design in November.

Louis Meyer, president of SGM, said Glenwood used the current site just southeast of the intersection of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers for over 60 years. One thing that makes this project unique, he said, is that there are now many different pipes coming into the site from different directions.

Some pipes use gravity alone to produce flow and some don’t. Fluids from all of them must be pumped uphill to the new site in West Glenwood. It sits on the old Cardnell property near the edge of town, south of the Colorado River and west of Glenwood Meadows and the Municipal Operations Center.

Preliminary designs call for a 14,000-foot-long pipe from the old site to the new one. It would roughly follow Seventh Street and then Midland Avenue.

The pipes would go up about 50 feet from the current site to a high point near the Municipal Operations Center. The old wastewater treatment plant is at the lowest point in Glenwood, Meyer said.

Meyer said engineers also considered taking the pipe north over the Colorado River to Two Rivers Park and then having it follow Devereaux Road. But the southern option only requires one river crossing. And there were concerns about putting infrastructure into the park. The Hot Springs Lodge and Pool has also worried various construction projects could damage the area’s geothermal aquifer that feeds the pool, Meyer said.

He said SGM and the city want public input on the initial designs, including the alignment of the pipes, plans for the new plant and a pump station that would remain at the current site. The new plant will have multiple buildings and basins in a “campus style” arrangement. This avoids having one large building and will make the plant more easily expandable in the future, Meyer said.

“Part of the objective is to make this blend in and make it aesthetically pleasing,” said SGM marketing director Suzanne Stewart.

The pump house at the current site will be mostly underground, but could include an above-ground building with an equipment storage area for a total of about 8,000 square feet. Meyer said engineers are working to make the facilities very energy efficient. Wednesday’s open house will include drawings of both the proposed pump house and new plant.

Moving the plant from downtown Glenwood will open up the current site in the confluence area for redevelopment.

“It’s probably the most desirable, valuable piece of real estate in Glenwood Springs,” Meyer said.

The new plant also is expected to increase treatment capacity from about 1.8 million gallons per day to about 2.6 million gallons per day to meet future growth. The current plant handles about 1.2 million gallons per day and has had some issues with water discharge quality due to ammonia. The 30-year-old plant has outlived its usefulness and wasn’t designed to meet today’s water quality standards.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has said Glenwood must build the new plant by 2014. The work could be done in 2012 if all goes well.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

pfowler@postindependent.com