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Martin Lake at Lathrop to be drained

by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG- The Walsenburg City Council had a full agenda Tuesday evening with a number of headline-producing topics.

    City Administrator Alan Hein reported that core samples taken at Martin Lake show the lake bed bottom is too soft to build a full-scale coffer dam around the outflow valve that needs to be replaced.  As such, the majority of the lake will need to be drained away, and a three-foot high coffer dam will be built as a compromise measure, so there is a small amount of water left for the wildlife.  There is 2,700 acre-feet of water stored in the lake.

    This is tentatively scheduled to begin in September, with a refill date of Dec. 1.  Whose water will be used to replenish, whether it is the City’s or the State’s, is still being debated.

    Local businessman Brett Corsentino came before the council to ask the City to consider joining an emerging group calling itself the Lower Cucharas Water Users Association (LCWUA).  The main purpose of the group is to ensure keeping the Cucharas river clean, which these days means keeping an eye on Petroglyph Oil and Gas, which is proposing pumping, treating and then dumping 10 million gallons of water a day into the river.

“This is a serious situation- we’ve been affected by their water dumping for close to a decade,” Corsentino said.  The City agreed it was a concern and voted unanimously to join the group and donate $2,500 to help with legal fees.

    Councilman James England read a report on the possibility of converting Walsenburg’s system of government from Statutory Municipality to Home Rule.  England cited pros and cons to the action, leaning heavily on the pros.  At the end of his report he called for a date to be set for a town hall meeting, so Walsenburgers can add their two cent’s worth on that and any other subject they wish to talk to their representatives about.  Mark your calenders for July 23 at 6 pm.  Location to be announced.

    In other council business, Hein reported that:

• Initial hard numbers from the gas line break on Memorial Day look like it’ll cost the City $60,804, including $1,200 in actual gas lost in the break.  There is a chance that amount will be covered by the City’s insurance.  Hein reported that other highly alarming sections of the pipeline are being dealt with now in a proactive manner.

• Work on the I-25 bridge is scheduled to be completed by July 15.  The reason for the delay is that when crews got into the guts of the bridge, they found that 75 percent of it had deteriorated and needed repair- “You could look down through holes and see the river,” Hein said. “It was kind of scary, actually.”

    Mayor Edi Sheldon noted she has received numerous complaints about the traffic in town, and wanted to stress that the City had nothing to do with routing traffic down Main St.

• The plans for the City wastewater treatment are almost done being examined by the State;

• The City has been asked to do something about the revolting sewer lagoon smell wafting around the prison.  Hein will look into chemical remediation.

• The new grocery store is hoping to start construction in September;

• The City made the deadline for a neighborhood stabilization grant from the federal government.  Walsenburg has a “very good chance of securing funding,” Hein said.

• A grant for $125,000 has been made for work on the Walsenburg train depot building, which was flooded in May.  Three more grant applications are pending.

• Spraying for mosquitos in Walsenburg is slated to begin next week.

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