PAWSD gives go-ahead on pipelines


Staff Writer

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) board approved the awarding of the contract to Hammerlund Construction to build a sewer pipeline from town to the Vista treatment facility and a potable waterline connecting the Meadows subdivision to District 2 (Pagosa Springs) at its regular board meeting on Tuesday.

The $6.8 million dollar sewer line will be paid for by the town using funding from a variety of sources, including a $2.8 million contribution from PAWSD. Additional funds for the line will come from a $1.25 million Department of Local Affairs grant, a $2 million state water authority loan, and $1.2 million from town reserves. Representatives from the town council and town manager David Mitchem were present at the PAWSD meeting Tuesday.

At the beginning of the discussion concerning the sewer line, community member Mark Weiler suggested the board award the contract to build the $2.2 million waterline alongside the town sewer line to Hammerlund Construction, the low bidder for the entire project at $9.1 million. The Hammerlund Construction bid for the waterline component of the project is 14 percent less than the cost of the line estimated by Bartlett and West, PAWSD’s district engineer.

It was communicated to the PAWSD board at the meeting that the town already awarded the contract to Hammerlund Construction in the amount bid and that the town had allocated $1.2 million dollars to cover construction costs in excess of the amount of available funding, including funds PAWSD will pay to construct the sewer line. As such, the PAWSD board agreed to follow through with its funding of $2.8 million for the sewer line. A motion was approved to allocate and pay its portion of the sewer line as it stands. Funding for the sewer line will come from 2006 revenue bond money allocated to the PAWSD wastewater fund.

Upon this approval, congratulations and thanks were offered to Gregg Mayo, PAWSD project manager, Art Dilione of Bartlett and West, and the rest of the PAWSD staff for their hard work and dedication to the project. The importance of cohesive government cooperation on the project was also emphasized.

The majority of projected sewer line costs will be incurred in 2014, with the remainder of costs being incurred in 2015. Shellie Peterson, PAWSD finance manager, explained that the projected ending balance in the PAWSD wastewater fund after the completion of the project would be $1.6 million. However, this number is based only on budgeted revenues and expenses for one year and does not take into account district income in 2015. Other factors will also likely affect this number in the long run, although it is the best estimate available at this time.

PAWSD projected expenditures for the associated waterline were reviewed at the meeting. Approval of the Hammerlund Construction contract by the board means it must agree to pay $2.2 million for construction of a water line that will run between the Meadows subdivision and District 2, benefiting Pagosa Springs by providing more reliable access to uninterrupted water service.

PAWSD chairman Alan Bunch explained to The SUN that construction of the water line will greatly benefit the community by providing water security for the present and future. To emphasize the importance of the line, Bunch discussed the difficulty PAWSD experienced working to provide Pagosa Springs with uninterrupted water service when the district was forced to shut down the Snowball treatment plant and line this summer during the West Fork Complex fires. Two other water lines serve the Pagosa area, but can only provide about one third of the water necessary to meet demand with uninterrupted service. In order to provide adequate service during this time, PAWSD had to fill storage tanks during low usage times at night in order to meet daytime demand. The installation of the new water line will help the district avoid these types of binds, in addition to supporting any more development south on U.S. 84. The district plans to pay for the water line using 2006 revenue bond money, but this money will come from the water fund. The district expects to spend the full balance of the 2006 revenue bond on these two projects.

Two specific issues concerning construction of the water line were brought up at the meeting. First, the board mentioned a deed restriction that applies to the Alpine Cascade Ranch stating that the district may only dig on the property once, hence requiring that the water and sewer lines be installed simultaneously.

As per contractual agreements, PAWSD is also responsible for repairing any damage done to Trujillo Road during the installation of the water line.

Currently, about 10 percent of the cost of the waterline project is for paving. It seems that the stipulation that PAWSD repair the equivalent of damage done to Trujillo Road during construction of the pipeline has been expanded to the point that it is unclear whether the district will be responsible for repaving more of the road than anticipated. The board agreed that it didn’t want to spend money paving Trujillo Road if it will be left to degrade as it has before and noted that PAWSD revenues shouldn’t be spent on this project beyond the cost to repair the road where waterline installation damages it.

“We don’t plan to leave the road in worse shape than it is in now,” said Bunch.

District manager Ed Winton plans to meet with county officials in the near future to discuss the bounds and responsibilities of the district as they pertain to Trujillo Road and the construction of the water pipeline.

In other business the board:

• Discussed water loss and how to best measure and quantify water loss.

• Approved the 2014 rate structure revisions.

• Motioned to approve the 2014 budget, then amended the motion to direct the staff to reflect the unknown cost of capital costs for pretreatment at the San Juan Water Treatment Plant as a placeholder in the budget.

• Motioned to approve the 2014 mill levies.

• Postponed consideration of board of directors code of conduct until the January regular meeting.

• Received a legal update from general counsel Jeff Robbins of Goldman, Robbins & Nicholson, P.C.

• Directed Robbins to further look into the reapplication of TABOR restrictions on the district and a related election.

• Entered into executive session to discuss the Dry Gulch Reservoir project.