Palisade nets $7.8 million for sewer plant

Palisade will receive $7.8 million in federal stimulus funding to replace its sewer treatment plant, a significant boost for a town that’s under federal pressure to comply with stricter environmental standards.

Palisade was awarded a $4 million loan and a $3.8 million grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Water and Environmental Program, which distributes money to rural areas to improve water and wastewater infrastructure.

“It will allow the town to remain a town. It’s that important,” Palisade Mayor Dave Walker said Thursday, referring to the loan and grant.

Palisade’s lagoons can’t remove enough ammonia from wastewater before it’s discharged back into the Colorado River to comply with new, heightened federal standards. Those regulations have to be met by 2013.

The town intends to build a lift station and construct a three-mile pipeline to hook into Clifton Sanitation District’s new treatment plant. The town could have built its own plant for the same money, but officials believe that option would have cost more long-term in maintenance.

Walker said the town will chip in another $750,000 of its own money for a total project cost of $8.55 million.

The project will spike the bills of Palisade sewer customers. Town officials have estimated a single-family residential bill will jump from $21.85 a month to $40 to $50 a month to generate the revenue needed to account for the town’s share of the bill.

While town leaders acknowledge that’s a significant increase, they say it’s much less than it would have been if the USDA provided fewer grant dollars or no funding at all.

Without funding, Walker said either Palisade citizens would have been forced to shoulder the entire cost of the project or the town would have incurred a daily fine from the federal government for failing to abide by the wastewater treatment standards.

Construction on the pipeline should begin before the end of the year.


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