Summit Daily letters: Breckenridge’s new $52 million ‘tink & drink’ water plant
December 22, 2016
Breckenridge's new $52 million 'tink & drink' water plant
Citizens please pay attention! For the past few years, Breckenridge Town Council has been planning to build a new, $52 million dollar water plant on the McCain property next to Highway 9 at the roundabout going into the lumber yard and Silver Shekel subdivisions to supplement our older plant at the Goose Pasture Tarn.
Besides the huge cost, I feel the most disgusting part of this plan is that the source of its water is right before the Blue River enters Lake Dillon. That spot is below two very active sewer plants. Here we are at the headwaters of the Continental Divide presently drinking from a pristine water source from the Tarn going to be forced to drink water that has first gone through two sewer plants and then treated. We'll be tinkling in it, then drinking it. There are drugs, road grease and oils, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals and hormones that no sewer plant today has the ability to remove.
A few people I've talked to about this say, "but Denver does it." Sure, but they are far from the Continental Divide and have no choice. We have other options. They have none.
However, to date, the council has been bent on having this plant and have not presented or studied any other options. There are other and good options out there, but not to the Breckenridge Ski Area's liking. This water plant plan will give them the greatest opportunity for more water for their snow making and at zero cost to them. Since the town and the ski area have the same water attorney, it's obvious where his true best interests lie.
Locals will be paying heavily for this plant. Water rates will go sky high. They say new users will help pay for this expense. Who? How? If a well goes dry (I don't know of any), it will be much cheaper for that owner to drill a deeper well than to dig a line, lay the line, pay hook-up fees to the town and then pay high water rates. Free, pristine well water is much more attractive. Subdivisions now on wells will stay on wells.
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The town needs another, back-up plant for the aging plant we have but they need to look at all options. One option could be to re-activate the existing water plant they have but never used since they took over the Upper Blue Water District in the 1990s. It served a thousand homes or more with pristine water from Barton Creek and wells on Peak 7. I was on this district's board for 12 years prior to turning it over to the town and this plant was new at the time and never failed. We had plenty of water then and today, even more wells could be drilled and the plant's gallery expanded. The town has plenty of land and water rights to do this. I'm sure the plant needs updating and probably a large expansion, but it would cost a lot less than the McCain plant and the best benefit, use pristine water. Great for the town, but it won't free up any more water for the ski area for their snow making.
For that there are options but they come with a cost mostly to the ski area.
1) The ski area could build another Blue River diversion point on the northwest side of the McCain property. Just like the one they use now above the Maggie Pond in Breckenridge with a small gallery for collection. No large reservoir needed and it would give them so much more water without hurting the town. Now, the Blue River dries up through Breckenridge every winter because of all the water they take out entirely at one spot.
2) Instead of using the reservoir they have on Peak 9 for their restaurants, they could use it for snowmaking and either drill wells for their restaurants or get town water.
3) Drill wells on the mountain or elsewhere (next to the gallery they have?), just for their snowmaking.
These options, and maybe there are more out there, hopefully will be explored by the Breckenridge Town Council thoroughly and with a totally unbiased water attorney who represents only Breckenridge. If only for this one water project, so we can avoid having a "tink & drink" water plant.
Clean energy for Breckenridge
It is very exciting to see Breckenridge looking into a transition to renewable energy! As one of the most recognized ski towns in North America, Breckenridge's actions will encourage others to follow in their path.
I am a snowboarder that has grown up in the area, and spend a lot of my time at the resorts and the backcountry in the Summit area. In that time, I have witnessed snowfall totals decrease, winters warm and ski seasons cut short. We need to repower our communities with clean, renewable energy to combat climate change, and Breckenridge could make that shift a reality.
I encourage Breckenridge commit to a 100 percent renewable electricity future. When you combine the passion of locals with organizations like I AM PRO SNOW, we can make Breckenridge's transition to 100 percent renewable electricity a reality. Now is a pivotal time to protect the future of our winters, and it is encouraging to see Breckenridge taking a step in the right direction.
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