Carbondale water passes `taste test’ |

Carbondale water passes `taste test’

Carbondale’s new water treatment plant isn’t even finished, but has already passed a taste test of sorts.

As longtime residents know, Carbondale is proud of its nearly pristine Nettle Creek water that flows from the flanks of Mount Sopris.

Several months ago, public works director Larry Ballenger brought town trustees jugs of water from all three of the town’s sources: Nettle Creek, the Roaring Fork well field, and the Crystal River well field.

He labeled the jugs A, B and C then poured some rounds.

“I’ll be darned if they didn’t hit the nail on the head,” Ballenger said.

Most of the trustees correctly identified Nettle Creek as the best water, followed by the Roaring Fork in a close second, and the Crystal a distant third.

“Crystal water is very hard,” Ballenger said.

Some trustees later reported it was difficult to tell the difference between Nettle Creek and Roaring Fork water.

Carbondale hasn’t used its Roaring Fork well water for several years, but will start again this summer when a $1.8 million treatment plant next to the Delaney property comes on line.

Ballenger said new water quality regulations in the 1990s classified the Roaring Fork well field source as “underground water under the influence of surface water.”

What that meant is the town could no longer pump Roaring Fork well field water directly from the wells to its 2 million gallon holding tank.

Several years ago, the town researched the feasibility of expanding its untreated irrigation ditch system to make treated Nettle Creek go farther in the summer. But officials eventually decided the scheme was not cost effective and went ahead with plans for a plant for the Roaring Fork wells.

Ballenger said construction on the Roaring Fork plant started just before Christmas, and hopes it will be finished in July. When the new plant is operational, the majority of the town’s water will come from the Roaring Fork wells.

Ballenger said Carbondale has the entire $1.8 million for construction in its water enterprise fund, so rates will not be raised, and bonds won’t have to be sold.

“The town of Carbondale is fortunate it doesn’t have to bond for it,” Ballenger said, “thanks to the foresight of the town trustees and town manager.”

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