Clifton plant could serve Palisade as well

Brian Woods, Clifton Sanitation district manager, shows off the new Clifton wastewater treatment plant, southwest of D and 32 roads. it is is coming in $300,000 under budget, due primarily to the use of inmate labor

The town of Palisade may turn to a neighbor to the west to help clean up its act.

Because of stricter federal water regulations, Palisade’s lagoon, wastewater-treatment plant at the west end of Riverbend Park, 451 Pendleton St., needs to be replaced within the next few years.

A new plant would cost the town an estimated $7 million, plus all the ensuing maintenance costs.

A lifting station and a pipeline to Clifton Sanitation’s new plant, on the southwest corner of D and 32 roads, would cost just about as much to build, but would be cheaper to maintain. Sewer rates for customers also could decrease if the town opts to connect to Clifton.

“We are in the $7 million range for either of these options,” Palisade Trustee Jim Bennet said.

Palisade’s Town Board of Trustees discussed the situation last week during a regularly scheduled meeting. No decisions were made, but the deck seems to be stacking up in favor of tying into Clifton.

“It makes no sense to build a plant,” said Mayor Dave Walker. “Both from an operational standpoint, over the next 10 to 20 years, and also from an environmental standpoint ... it certainly seems to make more sense piping to Clifton.”

But there is always a cost, and this one may require a tax.

“It is the old adage: It is never going to be cheaper than it was today,” Bennet said. “In order to get this new-and-improved service, we may have to make some tough decisions.”

Bennet suggested a possible bond measure or an initial increase in tap fees for residents to offset the cost.

The town also has applied for federal grants and submitted a request to Washington, D.C., for funding from President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, Walker said.

Town Manager Tim Sarmo and several members of the town board are scheduled to tour Clifton’s new wastewater treatment plant Thursday. The plant is undergoing final testing and is expected to be operational by the end of the month, said Brian Woods, district manager for Clifton Sanitation.

“On the surface it is definitely a good option for Palisade and Clifton to be evaluating,” Woods said. “I think the positives are considerable.”

There are benefits for Clifton Sanitation’s customers, too. The sewer plant’s debt would be reduced quicker, sewer rates for customers would be reduced, and Colorado River water quality would be improved due to one, not two, sewer plants operating within six miles of each other.

“We are in the middle of critical habitat for endangered fish,” Bennet said.

Clifton’s plant was built with expansion in mind and is capable of handling Palisade, Clifton’s future growth and the up-and-coming Whitewater area, Woods said.

Clifton’s plant will be processing 2.5 million gallons per day when it goes online later this month. It has the capacity to process 5 million gallons of wastewater a day. By comparison, the city of Grand Junction’s Persigo Wastewater Treatment plant can process 12.5 million gallons a day.

Palisade serves about 1,000 sewer customers.


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