Council Unanimously Approves 2014 Water Efficiency Plan

09/03/14 | By | More

‘Using Water Wisely Is the Right Thing to Do’

TELLURIDE -  The Telluride Town Council last week unanimously adopted a Water Efficiency Plan, enacting water conservation and distribution measures to lead the way in good water stewardship and set a good example to other towns.

Low water levels have raised concern in the region since 2012, most notably when the town banned all public and private use of fireworks at the Telluride Fourth of July celebration in 2012 and 2013.

“We are just a fire away from having a crisis in town,” Town Manager, Greg Clifton, said of the water shortages in 2012, “The numbers do not lie: we do not have any margin to play with.”

The stated final goal of the 2014 Water Efficiency Plan is to “optimize water efficiency throughout the water and wastewater system, which includes all water users as well as traditional infrastructure.”

In an interview, Guglielmone elaborated on the plan’s goals, stating, “The positive impacts of implementing this plan will include building an efficiently run water system with optimum efficiencies and minimum treated water losses. This keeps the price of water at the tap at the lowest it can be for that system.  In other words, the new plan will help the town provide water to its customers for a fair price that reflects the cost of water production and delivery.”

According to the plan, optimizing water efficiency requires a complicated array of tasks, such as the minimization of energy use for pumping and treatment, minimization of chemicals for treatment, lowering operational costs, and providing “insurance” that there will be more water and wastewater capacity available for the local tourist economy.

The plan will also employ measures to protect against droughts.

In a work session held in April for the purpose of updating council on the efficiency plan’s progress, the Public Works Department also submitted a memorandum enumerating certain water efficiency activities that will be continued, expanded, and/or initiated by the Town of Telluride during the five-year window of the Water Efficiency Plan.

The activities that will continue are mostly to do with existing metering and billing, and requirements for irrigation systems and landscaping. According to the report activities to be expanded include installing and metering more town owned properties, investigating inaccuracies of existing metering systems, and assessing the potable water usage at the Telluride Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Completely new measures include irrigation system upgrades, changes to the Water Conservation Ordinance to require limited water times (e.g., 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.), not just during identified water shortages, and replacing appliances in certain government owned buildings, such as replacing the older toilets in Shandoka.

Finally, a public awareness campaign utilizing the radio, newspapers and a yearly insert in the water bill, will attempt to provide more information to the public about how to use water wisely.

The Pandora Water Treatment Plant, which began construction in 2011, is also a component of the town’s overall efficiency plan.

“Most of the efficiency plan focuses on water use efficiency,” Guglielmone said, and “a portion focuses on production efficiency and elimination of water losses in the production and delivery system.  As the Pandora Plant will be quite new, efficiencies are designed to be high and losses due to breaks and leaks are expected to be zero.”

The Pandora system will pipe water from lakes in Upper Bridal Veil Basin to a new treatment facility that will then flow down to the town for use, easing the strain in the Mill Creek Water Plant, the town’s current water treatment facility.

It was this strain that initially caused the town to seek alternate water sources and even after voters approved a $10 million bond program ballot question in 2005, the town endured eight years of legal wrangling with the Idarado Mining Company over water rights.

During the Aug. 26, 2014 meeting, Guglielmone updated council on the status of the Pandora facility.

“As of July, we were 82 percent complete, and as we head into September, we are closer to 90 percent finished,” Guglielmone said. “We anticipate operations testing for water processing in early October that will give us time for troubleshooting prior to our Nov. 1 deadline of actually producing water for the public.”

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