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Rifle water plant repairs fast-tracked

Repairs to the City of Rifle’s Graham Mesa Water Treatment Plant, needed after the partial failure of the plant on Nov. 19, will be fast-tracked, so it is able to treat enough water to meet summer demands.

City Council gave unanimous approval to an exemption from the city procurement code – which means the work will not be put out to bid – on Wednesday, Dec. 4.

The repairs are estimated to cost slightly more than $200,000, and are complicated by parts that must be manufactured and then installed in time to ensure the plant is ready for the higher water demand caused by summer irrigation, said City Manager Matt Sturgeon.



“The volume of water we need to treat in the winter is 70 percent less than the summer,” he said. “So this is when we need to get it all finished.”

Sturgeon added the city will still talk to more than one company, but will save time by not having as much paperwork and time delays required by the bidding process.



In a memo to the council, Utilities Director Dick Deussen and Engineer Jim Miller explained the partial failure – which led to Reverse 911 calls to residents and businesses, asking for water conservation – happened when a series of plastic tubes failed that carry untreated water from the Colorado River.

Each tube has holes that allow sediment to fall through to a basin. The tubes collapsed due to the “excessive weight of sludge … on thin plastic tubes that have deteriorated over 35 years of age due to brittleness, fatigue” and other factors, Deussen and Miller wrote.

Further complicating repairs is that each tube is 20-inches long, a length no longer readily available, the memo added. The city was told by one company that 24-inch tubes can be made, but modifications to the plant to support the added weight and length will be needed, Deussen and Miller wrote.

The project schedule includes two weeks for the design of those structural modifications, 10 weeks to manufacture the tubes, four weeks to remove and dispose of the existing tubes and 16 weeks to install the new tubes, according to the memo.

“A 16-week schedule places completion late in the month of March – so no time to spare,” Deussen and Miller added.

Councilman Jonathan Rice noted, tongue in cheek, that “It sounds like it might be a good idea to build a new water treatment plant,” with plans now calling for that $25 million project to start construction early next year and take two years to complete.


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