City may redrill well to make sure Skico can make snow | AspenTimes.com

City may redrill well to make sure Skico can make snow

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

With drought threatening the Aspen Skiing Co.’s ability to make snow this winter, the city may jump-start a plan to rehabilitate a well to make sure there’s enough water to meet the Skico’s needs.

The city had planned to redrill the Mill Street well in 2003 to help meet future demands on its municipal water supply. But given the drought this year ? and the Skico?s concern that the city won?t have a sufficient supply to meet the company?s snowmaking demands ? the well work could be done this fall instead, according to Phil Overeynder, Aspen?s utility director.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss the project at its meeting today.

?We don?t have to do it for our purposes,? Overeynder said. ?If we want to help out the ski company, if that?s important, we need to hear that from the City Council.?

The estimated cost of rehabilitating the Mill Street well, located near Clark?s Market, is $215,000. The city has that money available, but the council may want to consider recouping half the cost from the Skico through its snowmaking contract with the company, Overeynder noted in a memo to the council.

The city currently takes its municipal water supply from Castle and Maroon creeks. The Mill Street well hasn?t been used in at least a decade because deterioration of the well casing and screens results in a high volume of sand in the water pumped from the well. The well could, however, provide about 1.4 million gallons a day ? enough to ensure the city has an adequate supply to meet the Skico?s snowmaking needs, according to Overeynder.

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The Skico uses city water for snowmaking on Aspen Mountain and at Aspen Highlands. Its contract with the city runs from late October to early January, but the city is only required to provide water for snowmaking if it?s available.

?We have no obligation, if the water is unavailable, to supply them with water we don?t have,? Overeynder said. ?It?s on an as-available basis.?

Eventually, the city would need to rehabilitate the well to meet its other demands anyway, which is why the project was scheduled to be done next year.

Overeynder said he suggested bringing the well back on line this fall after the Skico expressed concern about the water supply, based on the conclusions of a hydrologist hired by the company. The hydrologist predicted a 25 percent shortfall, Overeynder said.

A 1994 Water Supply Availability Study recommended the city rehabilitate three nonfunctioning wells to supplement its normal water supply during drought conditions. The Mill Street well is one of them. The well improvements are to be financed through special assessments when the city agrees to supply water outside its borders.

About $220,000 has been collected through contract agreements to extend municipal water service to areas such as Highlands Village, Five Trees, Williams Ranch and other developments.

Overeynder said he will recommend to the council that the city at least take rehabilitation of the well through the engineering/design phase and put the work out for bids. The council can make the final call when it?s time to authorize a contract for the work.

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