City to discuss water ‘reuse’ |

City to discuss water ‘reuse’

Janet Urquhart

A system to capture the outflow from Aspen’s sewage treatment plant and use it to water grass will cost $1.14 million, while a new irrigation system at the city’s golf course will run another $2.06 million.Those costs, and the need to borrow about $3.2 million to make the “water reuse” system happen, will be up for City Council discussion Monday.Such systems are gaining popularity around the country, especially in areas where water is in short supply – including Colorado’s Front Range – or where sewage treatment plants are facing costly upgrades to keep meeting the purity standards for effluent that is discharged into a river or other body of water.In Aspen, the planned construction of the Burlingame Ranch housing project and replacement of the Maroon Creek bridge have created an opportunity to pursue a reuse system that has been talked about for years, according to Phil Overeynder, head of the city’s water and electric utilities. Last year, the council directed Overeynder to investigate the feasibility of installing a reuse system that would provide water to irrigate the city golf course, among other potential users.The sewer line trench that will be dug for the Burlingame housing project, if it goes forward, can double as a trench for the piping for a reuse system. The pipe, along with other utility lines, would also cross the Maroon Creek gorge within the planned new highway bridge.The $1.14 million estimated cost includes construction of the system, design costs and water-rights work. Operating costs are estimated at $16,800 per year.”The total expenditure will mean we’ll need some kind of financing to get this thing going,” Overeynder said.On Monday, however, he is seeking the council go-ahead only for the water rights and design costs – about $80,000. The city won’t give up any water rights, he said, but must adjust the approved diversion point of raw water for irrigation from a point on Castle Creek to the wastewater plant locale.Before the golf course could use the treated effluent, however, it would need to replace its aging irrigation system with a new one, at a cost of $2.06 million, Overeynder said. The golf course has that project in its plans already, but it would likely have to bump the work up, he said.The golf course uses roughly a million gallons of water a day for irrigation during its season, or about 160 million gallons each summer. The water is taken from Castle Creek. The reuse system would produce about 1.5 million gallons a day for use at the course, as well as irrigation at the airport and at Burlingame, Overeynder said. Other potential users include the Maroon Creek Club golf course and snowmaking operations at Buttermilk/Tiehack.Under the plan, the city would gain 1.5 million gallons a day from Castle Creek that it could then use to augment its municipal supply at a lower cost than drilling a new well, Overeynder said.”This would, in effect, increase the potable water supply by a million and a half gallons a day,” he said.Or the water could be left in the creek, which empties into the Roaring Fork River, to augment streamflows and, presumably, improve the aquatic habitat.The treated effluent from the wastewater plant, meanwhile, would undergo further filtration as a result of its use as irrigation water, even though it meets standards for being discharged into the Roaring Fork. The plant is located along the river, next to the Aspen Business Center and north of the proposed Burlingame housing site.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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