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PAWSD set to start $14.5 million in local capital projects

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District is poised to begin over $14.5 million in capital projects this year.

Of the $14.5 million, approximately $3 million will be directly paid to local contractors and service providers which, based upon the principle that money circulates throughout a community five to seven times, translates to $15-$21 million for local coffers.

This does not include the money spent locally by the out-of area contractors during construction, nor does it include additional engineering, infrastructure and facility maintenance project expenditures that translate into hundreds of thousands — potentially millions — of dollars more for local businesses.

None of this $14.5 million will be spent on the Dry Gulch reservoir project. The Dry Gulch Project will not see substantial further progress until, according to the PAWSD board’s philosophy, “the project is required by growth.”

The 2010 capital projects follow the district’s long-term 2055 Capital Improvement Plans for water and sewer, which are revisited annually by the Board and staff as priorities and funding opportunities evolve.

The largest expenditure this year will be substantial completion of the Highlands Lagoon Elimination Project which includes a biosolids (sewage treatment by-product) beneficial use component. Funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), this project involves closing and remediating the existing Highlands Lagoon sewage treatment facility and making improvements to the Vista Wastewater Treatment Plant to accommodate increased flows from the Highlands and Hatcher areas. PAWSD anticipates spending approximately $8.2 million on this project in 2010, 30 percent of this directly to local contractors.

According to District Assistant Manager Gene Tautges, “We are excited about the Biosolids component of this project. We are seriously looking at thermal drying and solar greenhouse technologies which are environmentally friendly and which will potentially produce an end product soil amendment that will be available to our customers.”

The second large capital project, with a price tag of approximately $5.4 million, is the upgrade and expansion of the Hatcher Water Treatment Plant. This work involves installing the latest technology water treatment system to meet ever more strict federal and state drinking water regulations. Approximately 5 percent of this will be directly paid to local contractors.

Other capital projects slated for 2010 include replacement of the Snowball Pipeline at the Jackson Mountain Slide area, a project funded by and in cooperation with CDOT, completion of wetlands work at Stevens Reservoir, and installation of an ultraviolet treatment system at the San Juan Water Treatment Plant. These improvements will cost the district approximately $1 million, at least 50 percent of which will go to local contractors and engineers.

At a recent board meeting, Tautges commented, “In the next 30 to 45 days the district will begin $12-13 million in capital projects. This ongoing work is providing and should continue to provide a shot in the arm for the local economy by putting people to work and circulating dollars to local businesses.”