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Basalt awaits sewer decision

Sarah S. Chung

What role the Basalt Sanitation District will play in a neighboring trailer park’s sewage treatment troubles may be decided today.

Eagle County commissioners will take up the district’s application to expand its treatment plant again today. As a sidelight to their ruling, commissioners must decide whether the district should be forced to serve the Lazy Glen trailer park – and when – as a condition of approval.

Lazy Glen, located upvalley from Basalt, is currently serviced by its own wastewater treatment plant. The trailer park’s single, unlined lagoon system is considered a threat to water quality in the adjacent Roaring Fork River.

“In at least two flood events, the river ran clear through from one end [of the lagoon] to the other,” said Dwain Watson of the state’s water quality division.

“I’m not sure if raw sewage would be the term, but certainly partially treated material was carried away when it flooded,” Watson said. “The system’s not up to par and I think everyone understands that something has to be done.”

Technically, the Lazy Glen plant, which serves the 100 mobile homes, is not violating state codes, said Bill McKee, the state’s regional water quality coordinator. But McKee concedes that Lazy Glen would likely not receive another state permit without costly improvements that would include at least flood-proofing the lagoon.

Presently, Lazy Glen is under an administrative extension on a expired permit pending negotiations with the Basalt Sanitation District.

Lazy Glen has been a part of the district’s planning area since 1974 but the district’s board members rejected Lazy Glen’s application for inclusion in 1997, citing capacity and fiscal detriments to its existing customers.

In its pending application for expansion, the Basalt Sanitation’s board passed a resolution indicating that when it becomes financially sound, it will serve Lazy Glen.

When that point might be reached is unknown, given the district’s policy of forcing growth to pay for itself. That means the cost of serving the trailer park won’t be shouldered by the district’s existing customers.

“The district will do everything possible to help with Lazy Glen, but our first obligation is to our existing customers,” said Jim Lochhead, the district’s general counsel.

Nor do the residents of Lazy Glen have the resources to pay for a connection to the district on their own.

Several options, including two upgrading Lazy Glen’s existing treatment plant, have been discussed. The optimal choice, however, in terms of long-term water quality and service, is a pipeline connection to the Basalt Sanitation District’s treatment plant. But even with assistance from the district and other nearby developments, Lazy Glen is facing a $900,000 outlay for the pipeline.

“If the cost is $900,000, I can tell you right now we can’t raise it on our own,” said Tom Smith, attorney for the Lazy Glen Homeowners Association. “The residents are working-class people. There’s no way they can just come up with that kind of money.”

According to Smith, the association is researching options of grants and long-term financing, but would need a combination of funding partnerships.

Any service to Lazy Glen, by the district, however, hinges on the district’s ability to increase the capacity of its plant. That project remains mired in the approval process.

Eagle County commissioners will take up the expansion application today at 3 p.m. in Eagle. They tabled the application after a Jan. 25 hearing that included plenty of discussion on Lazy Glen’s woes.

The Eagle County planning staff, the county’s Roaring Fork Planning Commission and Northwest Council of Governments have all pressed for service to Lazy Glen as a binding condition as part of the district’s plant approval.

Along similar lines, last week Pitkin County commissioners toughened their stance as advisory body on the issue. They amended their recommendation to their Eagle County counterparts, urging approval of the plant expansion with a condition that the district “must include” Lazy Glen if it is petitioned to do so. Previously, Pitkin County called for only a “willingness” to serve the trailer park.


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