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RBC | Replacing aging and failing infrastructure was the primary topic of discussion for Meeker Sanitation District board members at its Dec. 6 meeting. Cooper Best and Josh McGibbon, from JVA Consulting Engineers, presented their assessment of the town’s sewer system.
JVA had Action Services “clean and jet” the lines and record their findings, resulting in 180 hours of sewer line video.
“We identified several different locations of problems including root intrusions, pipe sags, offset joints where the pipes have become separated and can cause leakage; and damaged pipes,” McGibbon said.
JVA uncovered three instances of fiber optic cable punched through sewer lines. The county is paying for and finishing repairs for those now.
One of the main problems in the system involve “service laterals.” While the district is responsible for the main system, homeowners are responsible for the connection between their homes and the district line.
“The reality is this is a big problem for you. The homeowner doesn’t necessarily see this problem,” McGibbon said. The assessment identified “quite a few areas” where the service laterals have become separated from the main line, allowing water and roots to get into the system.
The district is facing about $10 million worth of repairs and replacements during the next nine years, starting with the highest priority projects. Some areas will require “full line replacements.”
Funding options include capital reserves, increasing tap and user fees, but none of those options are enough to cover the costs.
“What we’re really looking for is outside help,” McGibbon said.
McGibbon and Best outlined necessary steps for the district to qualify as a “disadvantaged community” for grant purposes.
The “disadvantaged” label is limited to the Colorado State Revolving Fund and only applies to water and sewer projects.
“By doing both of these assessments, you have the engineering support to justify the costs,” Best said.
“You’ve been very proactive.”
The board, with JVA’s help, will begin pursuing grant monies to fund the suggested repairs and replacements.
In other business, the board agreed to file property liens on 10 delinquent accounts.
“A lot of people have walked away and left their homes in this recession we’ve been in,” said district office manager Gail Frantz. By state statute, properties have to be six months or more than $150 behind to be subject to the liens, which are filed once a year. The current monthly sanitation bill is $35. The last rate increase was in 2015.
The board also approved the 2018 budget, which includes a “tax holiday” for taxpayers, temporarily reducing the mill levy from 9.47 mills to 6.47 mills. The district anticipates $769,281 in revenue in 2018. According to the budget, “For the operation of the district, the estimated expenditures for 2018 have increased by $17,379.57 from the 2017 appropriated expenditures. The district has seen an increase in the property and liability insurance, employee health insurance program, an increase in the water sampling program, an increase in sewer main maintenance, and the employees will realize a 3 percent wage increase based on the average of salaries.” The district employs five people, two in the office and three at the wastewater treatment plant.