Rifle water now ’80 to 85 percent cleaner’, but still has ‘musty’ taste | PostIndependent.com

Rifle water now ’80 to 85 percent cleaner’, but still has ‘musty’ taste

Heidi Rice
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado – It’s been a year since results of a survey on Rifle’s water quality were revealed, showing that two-thirds of those surveyed rated the city’s tap water with a “strongly negative” or “negative” characterization.

And people are still complaining.

The March 2009 survey was conducted by the engineering firm of Schmueser Gordon Meyer and was held at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter.

Residents complained that the water had an odor and a musty taste.

The most recent complaint comes from residents on Birch Court, off the west end of East Fifth Street, along with some on the west end of East Seventh Street, according to Utilities Director Charlie Stevens. The complaints are about rusty colored water coming out of the faucets.

Utility crews have been working to solve the problem, which was determined to be coming from older, ductile iron pipes.

“While most of these have been replaced throughout the city, there are some remaining,” City Manager John Hier wrote in a memo to the Rifle City Council.

As of Tuesday, city crews had opened up pressure-reducing valves and began prechlorination at the water treatment plant.

“It’s now 80 to 85 percent cleaner, but the musty taste hasn’t gone away,” Stevens said. “We will also implement a carbon system at the Graham Mesa plant in the next six months which should help with the taste and odor.”

In August 2009, residents reported experiencing an unpleasant odor in their drinking water. At the time, the city attributed the cause to a type of algae in the holding pond of the city’s drinking water east of town, which was producing a moldy, musty smell and taste to the water.

The problem was due to warm weather and the growth of certain kinds of algae that gave off the unpleasant odor and taste, Stevens said.

However, it is now the cold winter months of March and the problems seem to persist, although not as bad as it used to be. Last summer, it was algae growing in the pond that seemed to contribute to the taste and the smell of the water. But it was expected to go away when the weather turned cooler.

And while the taste and smell were rather offensive, there was no danger in drinking the water.

The problem now obviously isn’t due to algae from warm weather, but due to manganese in the water taken from the Colorado River, Stevens said.

In the end, the fix will be a new water treatment plant, which the city is working on.

“The water problem is part of the reason we’re looking at a new water treatment facility,” said Mayor Keith Lambert. “It’s not a product that’s as good as it should be.”

Design plans for the plant are about 30 percent done, and the city is still looking at a location off Highway 6 east of Rifle. The city hopes to break ground on the new water treatment plant this fall, with a completion date in 2013 if all goes well.

Funding of the $34 million plant is expected to be paid through user rates and state and federal grants.

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