Whitewater sewer project under way

Mesa County is prepared to embark on a multimillion dollar project that will provide sewer service to Whitewater, a community expected to evolve in the coming years from a rural hodgepodge of developments to an urban center for thousands of homes.

County commissioners Craig Meis and Janet Rowland on Monday approved a $2.1 million contract with Mendez Inc. of Grand Junction to complete the first phase of a three-phase sewer line project from Whitewater to the Clifton Sanitation District, 3217 D Road. Commissioner Steve Acquafresca was absent from the meeting.

The first phase of the project, which should be completed early next year, covers three miles of sewer line to be built from the entrance to the Western Colorado Dragway, just north of the intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and 32 Road, to the intersection of 32 and C 1/2 roads.

County Senior Engineer Julie Constan said the county received nine bids for the first phase, including six from Front Range firms. The bid from Mendez, which was the lowest, came in nearly $900,000 below the county’s estimated project cost, an indication of how hungry the recession has made contractors for work.

“We’re still seeing really good bidding environments,” Constan told commissioners.

The second and third phases of the project will be bid in July. The second phase will run sewer line from the lift station off Coffman Road in Whitewater to the drag strip entrance. The third phase will connect the north end of the line to the Clifton Sanitation District plant. A new pedestrian bridge that will be built over the Colorado River will carry the sewer line.

The county is paying for the project up front and will be refunded through tap fees paid by customers as they hook into the system. Constan said the county is studying how long the payback from tap fees will take.

A $1.5 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs will help offset some of the local costs.

The county helped set the stage for the sewer system last year by rezoning roughly 2,100 acres from a predominantly agricultural-forestry transition to residential single-family and multi-use, which will allow for a mix of commercial and residential development.

County planners project that, at full build-out, Whitewater could be populated by 7,500 new homes and nearly 20,000 residents.


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