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Gardner water woes flow on

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG- A state engineer’s report about the problems facing the Gardner Water and Sanitation District was released today to the Huerfano County Commissioners. During the regular Wednesday commission meeting, staff briefed the commissioners on what the study shows and options available to remediate the problems.
Gardner water is showing a 200,000 gallon loss which has raised some concern over the condition of the meters used by the district’s customers. However the water loss itself, even though acknowledged as unacceptable, raised only a low level of concern because the water is staying in the Huerfano River drainage basin, which keeps depletion rates low.
Meter caps and water hardness along with the age of the meters were blamed for much of the loss. Vehicles driving over the meter caps push them onto the meters. This damages water lines and causes leaks. Also, the gears in the meters are becoming fouled from mineral deposits brought in by the area’s hard water, which skews readings of the amount of loss.
Other problems noted in the report are an aging water tank. The report noted that the tank’s roof has caved in and rust is apparent on both the inside and outside of the tank. Along with the tank are aging inlet and outlet lines to the tank. A single line is being used for both functions so when water flows one way it delays the opposite action. Those lines will have to be replaced.
Estimate of the cost for fixing Gardner’s water is around $600,000. Various funding mechanisms such as grants and a possible rate increase of $10 are being considered. The raise in rates would increase from the $33.58 rate customers are now paying to $43.68 which is the average for the state’s rural water customers.
Public Trustee Debbie Reynolds also gave her quarterly report showing six foreclosures for the business quarter, a decrease of 10 from the 16 foreclosures this time in 2010. 2011 has seen 20 foreclosures for the year down from the 48 foreclosures at this time in 2010.