Water treatment standards, property lines discussed by trustees

MEEKER I The Meeker Town Board of Trustees considered two important issues at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 7: new water treatment standards and a new property line for the cemetery.

New Water Treatment Standards

Water treatment Assistant Superintendent Tobey Willey was present to explain the new regulations that become effective on March 1, 2021, and how they will affect Meeker.

The disinfecting process currently in use is gaseous chlorine, in addition to added fluoride, which under current regulations require only a category “C” license. Under the new regulations, however, the disinfecting process will require either a “B” license if the plant design flow rate is 350–1,400 gallons per minute or an “A” license if the rate is above 1,400.

“I’ve had a call into the state for more than two weeks asking them how they will categorize us, but still no call back from them,” Willey said. “We are right on the borderline [between the two categories].”

In either case, to continue using the same process will require water treatment personnel to be re-licensed, an extremely difficult process.

The alternative is to replace the current process of gaseous chlorine with either calcium hydrochlorite or sodium hydrochlorite, either of which would do the job, keep the plant in the “C” category and prevent the personnel from going through an unnecessary testing process. Besides, “The gaseous chlorine is also more dangerous if not handled properly,” Willey said.

“I have been working on this for three weeks to see what it would cost to make this changeover, but there’s just so many variables that we have just been bouncing back and forth,” he added.

The issue is made even more complex with the continued use of fluoride, which under the new regulations will also require a “B” license instead of the current “C” license. This also requires special equipment and protective clothing for the personnel.

The recommendation of the plant, therefore, is to replace the gaseous chlorine disinfecting process with one of the other alternatives and also to seek a vote of the people via a ballot issue of whether or not to continue adding fluoride to the water.

As Town Administrator Lisa Cook interjected, this was a ballot issue back in the 1980s, which voted in fluoride use, so removing it would require another vote.

The board decided that Willey should continue moving forward with all this but also “look at some options either way,” as Mayor Regas Halandras advised. This will be a big decision, but “it’s not really what we (as the Board) want one way or the other,” but what is best for our personnel, he added.

New Property Line for Cemetery

Cemetery Manager Vanessa Trout and Cemetery District Board President Joe Conrado were on hand “seeking direction as to whether the town is interested in a boundary line adjustment,” Trout began. The line in question separates the cemetery and town properties located on the hillside behind Circle Park.

A trail starts at the park, goes up the hill, and curves around, but the problem is that it “weaves in and out, inside and outside the town property and the cemetery property,” she said. The new proposed boundary line would be moved down the hill and fully incorporate the trail.

While the town does not use this hill because of how steep it is, there are several advantages for the cemetery. One is that “the water pump for the cemetery goes up this hill, so the cemetery could maintain it without having to contact the town,” Trout said. There is also a future plan to run an irrigation line along the trail. It is also possible that part of that general area could be used for burial in the far future.

Still another reason for the change is that the cemetery board is working with the Rio Blanco County Historical Society on a bank robbery trail that would start at the museum, go through Circle Park, go up the hill, loop around and end up at the gravesite of the three would-be bank robbers from the 19th century. The cemetery could then aid the Historical Society in maintaining that trail. This would possibly be another tourist draw to Meeker for history buffs.

Conrado added that this change would also allow for an extra water line, “clean up the right of way problems”—the current line is very close to the flag pole area, for example—and provide another “low impact” access trail to the cemetery. “We also have some signage ideas,” he added.

The consensus of the board was to move forward with this project.

By Doc Watson
Special to the Herald Times