West GarCo 2022 in review: Silt’s water treatment center on the fritz | PostIndependent.com

West GarCo 2022 in review: Silt’s water treatment center on the fritz

Casey Carbone-Marron, Silt's lead wastewater operator, points Wednesday to the city's strainer, which intercepts things like crawdads and fish before water is filtered. A city worker painted the strainer in the form of a minion, a popular cartoon character.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

It’s beginning to look a lot more like crisis mode for Silt.

This western Garfield County town interspersed by pizzerias, a quiet Main Street cafe and a popular restaurant that offers boar shanks is on the verge of its water treatment center breaking down.

Town Administrator Jeff Layman just recently warned residents that if Silt doesn’t replace its current system with about a $28 million new water treatment center, things could get dicey.

To close out 2022, Silt Public Works Director Trey Fonner also offered his vision of a worst case scenario.

“I guess we’ll have to start trucking in water from our neighbors,” he told the Citizen Telegram in December.

The town is specifically running into issues with filtration. Silt is the first municipality downstream from Glenwood Canyon to pull its water from the Colorado River.

When you think about it, that’s a lot of pressure considering not one but two major natural catastrophes struck Glenwood Canyon over the past two years. Those catastrophes to this day negatively affect Western Garfield County’s water supplies.

There was the Grizzly Creek Fire of 2022, when more than 32,000 acres of forestland went ablaze. Then there was the ensuing mudslides of 2021, which summoned U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigeg and a gigantic checkbook.

All the sediment, muck and gunk from these events continue to roll into the Colorado River every time it rains and snows. This means Silt — as well as Rifle, Parachute and De Beque, because they all pull their water supply from the Colorado River — has to work a lot harder to provide safe drinking water for its community.

The town is responding by hoping to raise its customer water rates by up to 277%. This way, it can hopefully pay for a new facility and avert yet another crisis in Garfield County. This means 2023 is going to be a critical year for Silt and its residents.

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