County Facing Costly Water Safety Upgrade

Prowers-County-LogoThe Prowers County Commissioners are taking steps to comply with the Colorado Department of Public health and Environment to install water backflow devices in county owned buildings.   The statewide order impacts most commercial or industrial operations where there is a chance of contamination to public water sources.  The device, which is installed at the point where water enters a building, prevents water from reversing its flow through the piping system, carrying contaminated materials back into the drinking water.  The one main exception from the CDPHE is residences where there is only one source of water into a home or rental unit.  Single family homeowners are excluded from the mandate.

Every town or city in the state falls under the mandate which went into effect at the beginning of 2016. Holly and Granada Trustees, as well as the Lamar City Council are dealing with the issue which begins with a community assessment of where it is required and an information letter which will be mailed to all addresses.

While the county commissioners are investing $2,750,000 of the county’s money to update the courthouse, they are now contending with the costs and timetable of complying with this state health order. Kirk Powers, Building Maintenance Supervisor, estimated that this will be a costly venture for the county, “We’re dealing with two-inch mains into the courthouse and I estimate the cost for this building to run between $10 and $12,000,” he explained during a recent meeting, adding, “The part itself will be about $6,000 and it has to be installed by a licensed plumber and is subject to an annual inspection and a service fee.”  Other buildings include the Sheriff’s Department, the County Annex, the Day Care Center and out at the fairgrounds.  “The fairgrounds will be the most expensive update as you must have a meter on each water line and we have seven out there.”  He said there may be a way to install a master meter which would require just one unit.

Commission Chairman, Ron Cook, ventured that Powers might want to revisit with City of Lamar representatives from the water and wastewater department to see how the city is handling the situation. “We may want to consolidate and bid out the total project cost for all the buildings and realize some kind of savings that way.”  The commissioners have been aware of the same situation being faced by Holly and Granada through their Trustee meetings and said they understand the state would allow some leeway on the calendar if a community can show that it’s taking steps to comply with the health directive.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: Consumer IssuesCountyEnvironmentFeaturedHealthPublic Safety


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