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Basalt willing to extend sewer pipe

Jeremy Heiman

Pitkin County and the Basalt Sanitation District may be on the road to an agreement to provide sewer service to Lazy Glen and Holland Hills.

The district, the entity that provides sewage treatment for some Basalt-area residents, has applied for permits for an expansion of its treatment plant that could accommodate service to Lazy Glen, Holland Hills and Wingo Junction residences with their present populations.

Lazy Glen presently has its own sewer plant, but the trailer park facility is at or exceeding its capacity and poses the threat of contaminating the Roaring Fork River and groundwater.

The cost of extending a Basalt Sanitation District sewer line to Lazy Glen is estimated at $2.2 million.

District representatives met to discuss the expansion with Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday. On Monday, the district’s governing board passed a resolution expressing the district’s willingness to provide service to all three residential areas, located upvalley of Basalt, under certain circumstances.

One condition is that the Roaring Fork Club, which paid $575,000 for the district to run a sewer line to its location near Holland Hills, be permitted to recover 70 percent of that amount – $400,000 – from the tap fees charged to users for new hookups. Pitkin County Environmental Health Director Tom Dunlop said the present tap fee is $4,000 per unit.

The district is considering the possibility of spreading the cost over 200 users. Dunlop’s informal count indicates Holland Hills presently has 75 residences, Wingo Junction has 20, and Lazy Glen, 107, for a total of 202. The resolution calls for the sign-up period to be limited to three years.

Commissioner Shellie Harper questioned the three-year limit, and Glenwood Springs attorney Jim Lochhead, representing the sanitation district, replied that the idea of a deadline is to get people signed up so the district knows what capacity it has left to offer to additional customers.

Commissioner Mick Ireland said he has a problem with the resolution under discussion, in that it is not legally binding. “It seems to me the thing to do is to get an IGA [intergovernmental agreement] signed and be done with it, instead of an agreement to agree, where you come back later and argue about what you agreed to,” he said.

Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens and town Trustee Steve Solomon voiced agreement with creating a contractual agreement between Pitkin County, Eagle County, Basalt, the sanitation district, and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments concerning sewer expansion. Solomon called for a quick agreement, citing nitrate contamination of the wells supplying Holland Hills, which was reported to be from overtaxed septic systems in the area.

Monroe Summers, who heads the Holland Hills Executive Water Committee, told Solomon, “You need to pay less attention to the Aspen Daily News,” which reported the pollution.

“There’s not a shred of evidence that the Holland Hills water is being affected by nitrates from septic systems in Holland Hills,” Summers said. He said the obvious source is agricultural fertilizers, rather than the sewage cited by state health officials.

“The state decided to enlarge their target by painting Holland Hills with the Lazy Glen brush,” Summers added. He said once the source of the contamination was known and corrected, well water tests have improved.

Summers argued that before an agreement is signed, it should be clear that growth won’t be fueled by the availability of sewer service. But attorney Thomas Fenton Smith, representing Lazy Glen homeowners, said, “`If you build it, they will come’ is not accurate in my estimation, because they will come anyway.”

The officials generally agreed to work out an agreement based on the district’s resolution with a number of conditions, including one setting the total cost to Lazy Glen residents at not more than $200,000.


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