Drinking water infrastructure for Wildernest and Cortina Ridge receives funding to reduce rusting issues

The inside of Buffalo Moutain Metropolitan District’s tanks have faced erosion, so officials have planned to rehabilitate it to improve service to water customers.
Buffalo Mountain Metropolitan District/Courtesy

By the end of the summer, customers of the Buffalo Mountain Metropolitan District will receive their drinking water from an improved water tank.

Shellie Duplan, district manager, said that this project will rehabilitate Tank 3 of the district’s water system, which serves thousands of customers every year. Specifically, this project will remove the old coating inside the tank, conduct patch repairs and recoat it.

“Our tanks are more than 50 years old, and they started to show quite a bit of corrosion on the roofs of these steel tanks,” Duplan. “We conduct repairs on an annual basis as needed, but, you know, over the past five to 10 years — really the last five years — the annual diving we’ve been doing has just been showing more and more corrosion.”

Duplan said that living at a high elevation gives projects like these unique challenges. Extreme climates can put stress on pipelines, and she said that the district has worked proactively over the last 10 years to address problem areas. Last year, the district worked to upgrade other parts of the water system, including some to Tank 2 and more urgent problems with Tank 3.

A view of condominiums from Ryan Gulch Road in Wildernest, Colo. on Tuesday, Aug 27. The district that provides water to Wildernest recieved additonal funding from the Colorado River District to update its water system.
Liz Copan /Summit Daily News archive

Last week, the interior project received $25,000 in funding from the Colorado River District. According to the staff’s recommendations in the district’s board meeting agenda, the award “acknowledges the strong and forward-thinking conservation actions that BMMD has taken to implement daily leak detection and install ground well monitoring equipment.”

“That’s why we’re going to be going back and reestablishing and rehabbing the tank and re-coating it,” operations manager Will Yates said. “Once it’s been coated, the steel won’t interact with the water, and it won’t create rust in the future. But rust is unfortunately inherited with the chemical breakdown of steel tanks.”

If the tank were to be left alone, it would continue to erode. This could cause leaks, and since Tank 3 is part of the water distribution system, Duplan said ignoring issues is definitely not an option. She said the current timeline has the interior project completed and back online for users by the beginning of June.

Yates is also working on a Capital Improvement Plan for the district, which will identify long-term capital updates that will be needed in the next 20 to 25 years. The district is also looking to release a rate study, which will analyze the cost of those long-term projects and provide a financing plan for them, as well. Updated information for both will be released to the public within the next 30-60 days.


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