County seeks stimulus help to fix Mack sewage leak

It is estimated that 3 million gallons of raw sewage is leaking out of the Mack wastewater treatment lagoon each year.

The lagoon, taken over by Mesa County in 2005, has been discharging to the groundwater for years, said Mesa County officials. The discharge is “six times greater than the allowable amount,” according to a $2 million loan application for federal stimulus funds — intended to be used to fix the problem — submitted to the Mesa County Commission for its approval on Monday.

“There’s not any major public health issues out there,” said Julie Constan, Mesa County engineer on the project.

While the county seeks $2 million for Mack’s sewerage, a $4.2 million loan is also being requested from Washington for Whitewater, which is getting a sewage lift station that will connect with the Clifton Sanitation District at a cost of $5.3 million. The loans are part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and it is likely, according to Mesa County Administrator Jon Peacock, that the federal government will forgive the loans, essentially making them grants.

If the loans are approved by the feds, then both projects would break ground in late September and be completed in early 2010, Constan said.

The total project cost for the replacement of Mack sewer, north of Interstate 70 near M.8 Road, is $2.46 million.

It serves fewer than 200 households, about 520 people. That is expected to change in the next several years when the Red Cliff coal mine opens in Garfield County. Workers and their families will need housing, Peacock said. There is also the possibility of Mack and Loma sharing the waste treatment plant in the future.

“We anticipate growth,” he said.

The replacement plant will be built at a factory and set into place. Such package plants are easily added onto, allowing flexibility to deal with growth, Peacock said.

Commissioner Craig Meis said the Mack waste facility fell into disrepair because some residents were charged less than others for tap fees and, consequently, an appropriate fund balance to pay for maintenance never was established.


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