Pipeline costs continue to overflow


Staff Writer

The Pagosa Springs Sanitation and General Improvement District continues to deal with additional costs concerning its agreement with the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District to build a forced main sewer pipeline between the downtown lagoons and the Vista Wastewater Treatment Plant on the west end of town.

According to the documents town sanitation supervisor Gene Tautges provided the board for its Tuesday night meeting, the engineering firm of Bartlett & West will charge $18,957 to redesign Phase I of the project and $31,341 for Phase II.

The original plan was to build the first part of the pipeline, between the lagoons and Trujillo Road, across Steve Graham’s land and a small corner of the property belonging to the Martinez family.

However, because the town failed to properly negotiate a legally binding easement agreement with Graham, the decision was recently made to pursue an easement with the Quintana family, who own the neighboring property to the south.

This Quintana realignment will require approximately 1,800 feet of redesign from Station 18 to 36, which will modify two plan and profile drawings.

However, at Tuesday’s meeting, town manager David Mitchem revealed this change order would need to be tabled “pending acquisition of the easements.”

Later, Mitchem clarified, “Regarding the easement acquisition, negotiations are proceeding. There is every indication they are proceeding in a positive manner, but the bottom line is we don’t have those documents in hand yet.”

According to an earlier interview, Mitchem explained that while the PSSGID was responsible for easement acquisition for Phase I, PAWSD was responsible for securing the easements for Phase II.

At Tuesday’s meeting, no explanation was given as to why the town should have to pay for changes to Phase II when PAWSD failed to acquire the necessary easements for that section.

Tautges did, however, explain the history of the situation on that end of the project.

In 1998, PAWSD secured an easement from the Colorado Timber Ridge Property Owners’ Association, but in 2013 it was discovered this easement only covered a water pipeline, not sewer.

At that point, CTR granted the additional sewer easement, but in mid-April of this year, town attorney Bob Cole questioned the validity of this second easement, and while the PAWSD attorney found no deficiencies, it turned out Cole was correct.

On April 23, the new president of CTR revealed that the original 1998 easement was granted before any CTR properties were sold. Therefore, it did not apply to the individual property owners who have purchased lots since.

In total, new easements would need to be obtained from 12 individual property owners. Of those, 10 expressed a willingness to grant an easement on the condition that no mature trees would be removed from their properties. One property owner expressed reluctance to grant an easement under any condition, and as for the last property owner, no one knows his whereabouts.

It was finally decided that by shifting the pipeline 30 to 40 feet further north, all of these individual properties could be avoided and only the CTR common property, or greenbelt, would be needed. CTR, which is now a metro district instead of a property owners’ association, agreed to grant this new easement through its greenbelt.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Tautges reiterated that he current request for an additional $18,957 for Phase I and $31,341 for Phase II only includes professional land surveyors, professional engineers and CAD drafting technicians to redesign the plans for the pipeline. Another change order for additional costs related to actual construction may come before the board at a later date.

However, at the beginning of Tuesday’s discussion, Mark Weiler, who is a member of the steering committee for the construction project, reported that while the original construction bid included $400,000 for rock mitigation, the final bill could be for half that. The ground isn’t nearly as rocky as previously estimated.