While a new sewer lift station isn't the most glamorous maintenance upgrade, the new $50,000 device will keep things running smoothly in Plateau Valley School District this year.

The project was completed as part of a grant from the Mesa County Federal Mineral Lease District, which distributes grants funded by royalty payments from mineral extraction on federal land.

In a grant application, Collbran Town Administrator Davis Farrar wrote that the funds will help a community significantly impacted by energy development.

"This project supports the schools by ensuring continuity of sewer service and minimizes impacts to already stretched budgets," Farrar wrote. "Project funding will help support educational programs because it will minimize diversion of funds to infrastructure needs."

Grants are awarded by the Federal Mineral Lease District's board, whose members score each grant application based on how it will benefit a community impacted by the energy industry. Those cumulative scores determine which groups receive grants.

It can be a tough process, said board member and Mesa County Commissioner John Justman, because so many applications have merit.

"But when it comes to Collbran, you can see the mud and deterioration of the streets from the energy trucks, you can drive up to those communities and see the impact the energy industry has had," Justman said. "That's why I think it's so important these dollars go into those communities."

Replacing the sewer lift station was "critical" to make sure there were no catastrophic failures within the old system, which would cause a disruption to school, according to a statement from the Mesa County Federal Mineral Lease District.

The district is currently accepting grant applications for the fall 2018 cycle. For more information, visit www.mesafml.org.

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