Lake water treatment project continues at PAWSD


Staff Writer

It was the past spring when Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District began work on the San Juan Water Treatment Plant Improvements Project.

This project would enable water from all of PAWSD’s lakes and reservoirs (Village Lake, Lake Forest, Lake Pagosa and Stevens Reservoir) to be treated at the San Juan Water Treatment Plant and enter the PAWSD distribution system to be used. At present, only the water in Lake Hatcher is treated and used.

Last month, PAWSD Project Manager Gregg Mayo said in an interview with SUN staff that the first phase of this project was complete — a pipeline connecting Lake Forest to the plant was built.

Next, pumps must be purchased and installed at Lake Forest. Installation of the pumps includes construction of a power shack next to the lake inside of which all the electrical components of the pumps will be housed.

As of the end of November, the bid process for the pumps was closed and awarded to Water Technology Group.

“The pumps are scheduled to arrive in four to six weeks,” Mayo said. However, he added, another week should be added due to the holidays.

The pumps will float on the lake surface and will pump water into the new pipe. From there, the water will flow, with the help of gravity, to the treatment plant.

After the pumps arrive and are installed, Mayo said the next step is to start pumping.

When this project was first proposed last spring, it was done so with the assumption there had to be additional components at the San Juan Water Treatment Plant in order to treat the lake water to meet the State of Colorado’s drinking water standards. However, in September of this year, Jeff Shamburg, engineer for Bartlett and West, the on-call engineering firm for PAWSD, told the PAWSD board of directors during a regular meeting that the process might not be as intensive and expensive as originally thought.

“In the preliminary engineering report, we have not come to the same conclusion that additional treatment is necessary to treat water from Lake Forest,” Shamburg told the board at the September meeting. In a previous interview with The SUN, Shamburg said that engineers would not know what the water quality would be when the water is pumped into Lake Forest. Soon, PAWSD and their engineers will find out.

“Once we start pumping, the water will go into the plant, then we’ll analyze and test the water while it sits in the plant. If we find that it’s not suitable, we’ll throw it into backwash ponds,” Mayo said, adding, “Nothing leaves the plant until we’re sure about the quality of the water.”

Mayo said that if the pumps arrive soon, PAWSD could be pumping and testing the lake water as early as the first of February. Once the pumping has begun, Mayo said that, if the water is of drinking quality, the project will be done. However, if the water quality isn’t up to par, Bartlett and West will begin to design alterations and upgrades at the San Juan Water Treatment Plant to allow for production of acceptable drinking water.