Water department updates and repairs in Monument were a big part of the discussion at the July 20 Board of Trustees meeting.
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish gave an update on water department projects in the works and on the horizon. Among items in Tharnish’s presentation were the latest on the Well No. 9 radium removal project, water treatment plant No. 7 modifications, and the Strawberry Lane distribution project involving a replacement of the water main.
The radium removal project for Well No. 7 is on schedule, Tharnish said, with the design phase 90% completed, and should be submitted to the State of Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment for approval by September.
“We know and they know this is one of our highest priority projects,” Tharnish said.
The water department had engineers look at all possible options for removing radium — a total of six methods — which were entered into a scoring matrix to rate them by efficiency, capital costs, disposal and other factors, as well as looking at what other towns have done for radium removal, Tharnish said. After findings were in, Tharnish said the method of disposal which makes the most sense for Monument is absorption, which uses a type of filter media to totally remove the radium ion from the well.
Other methods could reduce the amount of radium, but once the systems were saturated, would require a backwash or reverse flow of the system which would end up going through the wastewater system, he said. Wastewater purveyors would have to approve this portion of the process.
“There’s a lot of risk going down that path,” Tharnish said. “We opted to remove it ourselves. This is probably the most efficient way to remove it.”
Among the matrix scoring, the absorption method scored second highest. The only option that scored higher was a process called blocking, which risks the radium ion moving to a different location — which would necessitate the entire removal process starting over, Tharnish said. Blocking was the cheapest option but also the most risky, he said.
Construction should begin on the project early next year, Tharnish said, depending on when CDPHE approval is received and whether there are any weather delays. Completion is scheduled for August 2021.
“If we could get it done mid or early summer , that would be better,” Tharnish said. “Every step that comes in ahead of schedule, we will move things up.”
The contract for the water treatment plant No. 7 modifications project is going out for opening bids Aug. 13, and the timeline of the project has it completed and operational before the end of the year, the public works director said. Even after the department gets bids back, construction may have to wait a week or two until the high-demand period of water productivity is over, he said.
“Right now, with our current situation, we have to run that well nonstop,” Tharnish said.
The Raspberry Lane distribution project has turned out to be a little more complicated than anticipated, he said. Currently in the design phase, the project may have to pause after the design is complete because public works would “pretty much have to destroy the road that is already there,” Tharnish said.
There will be a need for neighborhood meetings regarding the logistics of the project prior to the start of construction. Since the road is narrower than most standard streets in Monument, construction for the project would require cutting off access to residents’ driveways for extended periods of time. The project involves putting in a new water main and re-tapping 48 connections in the neighborhood to the new main.
One neighborhood meeting is expected in the fall and a final meeting would be in the spring of next year. Tharnish said once the construction bid is awarded, the department will have to coordinate the timing of the project phases, including running temporary water lines to give residents service during construction.
“We will have a lot of people out of service if we’re not careful,” Tharnish said.
Later in the meeting, the Board of Trustees approved using water enterprise contingency funds for emergency repairs to Well No. 3, which experienced a power failure the morning of July 5 and had to be shut down. Trustees also approved using contingency and capital expenditure funds to make emergency repairs to Well No. 8.
The Well No. 3 repairs should take at most $95,000, Tharnish said, noting he hopes the department would get the well back online early in week after the repair work. Well No. 8, which is a larger producer of water for the system, had a seized pump and required acid cleaning. Well No. 8 was expected to have service shortly after the day of the meeting and came with another $95,000 worst case scenario cost.