Utility rate study shows aging pipes in Rifle’s infrastructure
Some Rifle infrastructure is nearly 100 years old, an ongoing capital and rate study reports.
The udy could lead to a restructuring of what users pay in monthly bills and shows pipes across the city could date as far back as 1936.
“That’s the gold standard of America,” JVA Consulting Engineers associate Andrew Sparn told Rifle city council during a Wednesday workshop. JVA was contracted by the city for nearly $100,000 to conduct the study. “I’d say you’re right on par with other communities of this size.”
After the city approved a 5% increase to the sewer rate in late January, residential, commercial and industrial customers pay about $60 for use up to 4,000 gallons per month. The base rate for water usage, meanwhile, is about $30 for up to 4,000 gallons per month.
JVA data and figures obtained through computerized technology show numerous distribution and collection lines throughout the Rifle grid with higher risk of failure. The more at-risk pipes include being made from material like asbestos cement and cast iron.
Vulnerability and integrity of the underground infrastructure is determined on a 1-to-5 scale, with 5 being the worst. Aging piping — especially installed some time between 1936 to 1975 — grades between 4 and 5 and is found in many neighborhoods north of the Colorado River.
JVA data also show 67 and 106 counts of grade-5 line amongst the city’s distribution and collections systems, respectively.
In response, the city will need to determine which pipes need mitigation or replacement, projects that will likely lead to future road closures.
In addition to underground infrastructure needs, JVA also recommended a number of big-ticket improvements to be made at the water treatment and wastewater treatment plants, including various pump stations and the Rifle Garfield County Airport water tank, among other items.
“We need to make sure the water treatment plant can treat enough water to meet the demand of the city,” said JVA engineer Josh McGibbon.
The projects would likely be completed between 2021 and 2040 and are projected to cost the city about $164.3 million. The proposed projects come after the city spent about $30 million to replace its former water treatment plants in 2017, which was funded mostly by collections gathered through a .75% increase in sales tax.
JVA, working in conjunction with Raftelis Financial Consultants, will begin to draw up financial plans for any upcoming construction. Those figures are to be presented to the Rifle council in March.
The city has not yet taken action on the findings on the utility rate study.
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Independence Pass remains closed Friday morning because of snow drifts and winter driving conditions on the narrow road, a Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman said in an update Friday morning.