$500,000 grant supports Custer County reservoir project

The proposed Round Mountain Reservoir would provide a much-needed source of augmentation water in Custer County.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board awarded a $500,000 grant to the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District and Round Mountain Water and Sanitation District for construction of a new reservoir near Westcliffe.

Upper Ark Project Manager Gracy Goodwin reported the grant award during the Thursday meeting of the Upper Ark board of directors in Salida.

Upper Ark General Manager Terry Scanga said the total cost of the project is estimated at $3 million and that the Upper Ark District is responsible for a third of the cost under its agreement with Round Mountain.

Round Mountain provides water water and sanitation services to the towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, serving a population of approximately 1,000.

As previously reported, the Upper Ark District and Round Mountain began collaborating on the project to address the need for a source of augmentation water on Grape Creek upstream from DeWeese Reservoir. The 7-acre reservoir will have a storage capacity of approximately 150 acre-feet.

Goodwin reported that Engineering Analytics, the firm hired to design the reservoir, recently completed a topographic survey for the intake infrastructure and the dam. The company is also finalizing the reservoir design and starting work on the construction drawings.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board also provided funding for an initial feasibility study and the design work, and Goodwin said Upper Ark staff are investigating additional sources of funding to help pay for construction costs.

In addition to its augmentation water needs, Round Mountain faces significant wastewater treatment challenges.

Citing an “overtaxed wastewater treatment plant” that “cannot adequately process additional effluent,” the Round Mountain board of directors enacted a moratorium on the sale of water and sewer taps Jan. 1., effectively halting new construction in Westcliffe and Silver Cliff.

Information on the Round Mountain website indicates the district’s wastewater treatment plant “is 46 years old, built with a technology that cannot meet current environmental standards and receiving considerably more sewage than it can fully process.”

Joe Stone