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Rifle water treatment plant work won’t start until spring

Mike McKibbin/Citizen Telegram File Photo
Staff Photo |

Delays in getting the required 22 permits for Rifle’s $25 million water treatment plant started a series of events that will delay the start of any major construction work until next spring, City Council was told at a July 17 workshop.

The 16- to 24-month project will include improvements to the city’s raw water pump station, a new 24-inch raw water pipeline to the new 40,000-square-foot plant, a radio tower at the Graham Mesa plant for remote data transmission of the city’s water system to the pump station and then by cable to the new plant, and connections to water transmission and main lines.

The original plan was to start work this summer, but Utilities Director Dick Deussen said it took much longer than anticipated for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to sign off on the final permits. That led the city’s consultant, Malcolm Pirnie ARCADIS, to reassign staff engineers to other projects, since they could not proceed without the permits, Deussen said.



The city also changed the location of the plant within the site east of Rifle, off U.S. Highway 6, so additional groundwater and other tests were required by the health department and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, added Resident Engineer Jim Miller.

“They can do some things over the winter, like put in their offices and drill some de-watering wells. But the major work will have to wait until next spring.”
Dick Deussen, Rifle utilities manager

“It’s closer to the wetlands, so we need to know how to manage that,” he said. “We also need to know about the bedrock elevation.”



Deussen said the general contractor for the project will be chosen through competitive bids, with the City Council expected to award a contract in October.

“They can do some things over the winter, like put in their offices and drill some de-watering wells,” he noted. “But the major work will have to wait until next spring.”

City Manager Matt Sturgeon told council — along with all six City Council candidates — that the city purchasing code requires all change orders to be approved by the city manager or department head, as long as they don’t total more than 10 percent of the project cost. On the water plant project, that could mean a $2.5 million change order, “and I’m not comfortable having the authority to approve change orders as large as that,” Sturgeon said.

He proposed any change order more than $500,000 would need City Council approval. Miller estimated about one change order a month would need City Council approval.

Sturgeon also noted councilmembers will have access to the same computer software used by the city and the general contractor to track real time expenses and transactions.

“And you’ll get monthly reports on where things are at,” he said. “So there will be a lot of eyes constantly on the project.”

In their regular meeting after the workshop, City Council approved a resolution supporting an application for a Colorado Department of Local Affairs Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Fund grant to help acquire and install a natural gas-fueled backup generator at the plant.

The 1,600- to 1,750-kilowatt generator, with emissions control equipment, would serve as a secondary power source to keep the facility operating during power outages, city Government Affairs Coordinator Kimberly Bullen told council. It would also allow the city to take advantage of Xcel Energy’s interruptible service option credit, Miller noted.

That credit allows Xcel to call the city and ask them to reduce electrical usage at the plant due to heavy summer demands on their distribution system, Miller explained.

“I’d say this would happen between 20 to 40 times a year,” he said. “You sign up for 40 hours and get a monthly credit on your electric bill.”

The estimated cost of the generator is more than $1.4 million, with the city seeking half that amount, or $735,000, in the grant application. The city’s 50 percent share would come from the Colorado Water and Power Resources Authority loan that’s funding the project, Bullen said.


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