Rifle water use soars in hot July despite outside restrictions | PostIndependent.com

Rifle water use soars in hot July despite outside restrictions

Mike McKibbin
Citizen Telegram Editor

Voluntary outside water use restrictions the city of Rifle imposed on July 8 didn’t keep the city’s Graham Mesa Water Treatment Plant from reaching more than 85 percent of its capacity that month.

City Manager Matt Sturgeon told City Council at its Aug. 21 meeting that while the odd-even restrictions for residents and businesses helped, the plant treated 102 million gallons of water in July, an increase of 700,000 gallons over June.

Treated water delivered to residents during July was 82 million gallons, according to a city utility department written report to the council. The difference is lost primarily through the filter backwash process, the report said. Maximum daily demand actually exceeded plant capacity twice, the report noted, but the city’s water tanks were full and met demand during the peak periods.

Properties with even addresses water on even calendar days and odd addresses water on odd calendar days. The odd-even watering schedule also asks that outside water use occur only between the hours of 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. The restrictions are planned to continue through Sept. 30.

Sturgeon also told council that two of the three 1,500-gallon hypochlorite tanks at the plant developed leaks. Hypochlorite is used to disinfect treated water before it is delivered to the city’s 3-million gallon storage tank. Sturgeon said in order to remove the leaking tanks and install new ones, a hole was cut in the north wall of the plant building.

Problems with the plant’s activated carbon system had led to some recent complaints about the taste of city water, Sturgeon also noted.

“That’s what we use to treat the water to help it taste better,” he said. “The water is completely safe to drink, but some people said it tasted like pond water.”

The city’s new $25 million gallon water treatment plant, scheduled for groundbreaking this fall, will help prevent problems such as these at the more than 30-year old Graham Mesa plant, officials have said.

In other water system items included in the utility report, the Colorado Water Conservation Board is financing, through a grant, audits for irrigation systems in seven city parks and public areas, such as landscaping in the roundabouts. A cost estimate will then be provided to improve the systems as necessary. Grant funds can be used for improvements, according to the report.

City workers have started to replace 10 broken or old fire hydrants. Each hydrant costs about $2,500, not including installation labor. Flow tests for several hydrants will be conducted for fire insurance underwriters.

North roundabout grant sought

Council approved a resolution and grant application to the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District for construction of the north I-70 roundabout.

“The design of this roundabout [on the north side of the I-70 Rifle interchange] is underway and this grant will help us get construction underway in the spring,” said City Engineer Rick Barth.

The estimated cost is $2.5 million, with the city requesting $500,000 from the district, $250,000 from the city’s street improvement fund, $250,000 expected to be provided by Wayne Rudd, an adjacent land owner, and the Colorado Department of Transportation, wrote city Government Affairs Coordinator Kimberly Bullen to the council.

The district plans to announce grant awards on Oct. 25, she noted. If selected, city staff hopes to seek bids for the project in February and start work in May for completion by October 2014.

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