Mancos working on water safeguard

Report lists steps to prevent another crisis

Mancos Public Works director Robin Schmittel explains how water flows through the water treatment plant at a tour on Saturday. The water treatment plant will be getting several upgrades to help prevent water outages like the one in February. Enlargephoto

Mary Shinn/The Mancos Times

Mancos Public Works director Robin Schmittel explains how water flows through the water treatment plant at a tour on Saturday. The water treatment plant will be getting several upgrades to help prevent water outages like the one in February.

The Mancos Public Works Department is the process of planning and installing safeguards in response to a townwide water outage in February.

A pump failure, followed by its backup failing, at the water treatment plant caused the 72-hour water outage. The problem was resolved when a new pump was installed.

A February report stated that the backup pump had not been tested under daily conditions and if it had, an error in the rewinding of the motor would have been found.

The report identified major steps to prevent another outage, including testing the pumps under a full load and installing redundancies in the system. It also outlined steps the town staff would take to be prepared in the event of a similar emergency. Town staff and county officials jointly identified the goals.

Currently, public works staff still can't test the pumps under a full load. During a test, the pump couldn't function for a day, and water couldn't be cleaned or stored. The town is headed into the peak watering season and will empty the water tank twice a day, said Robin Schmittel, the town public works director.

However, the town plans to install two pumps that could be tested without taking the whole water treatment system down, as part of a large-scale infrastructure improvement plan.

In the meantime, the town is monitoring the mechanical and electrical components of the existing pump, said Town Administrator Andrea Phillips.

The town has also installed a gravity-fed water line from Jackson Reservoir to the water treatment plant that would not rely on a pump.

Installing a second water storage tank is also on the list of the report's suggested improvements. The town has applied for a grant to help fund the new tank estimated to cost $1 million, Phillips said.

The town is applying for an Energy Impact Assistance Fund grant through the Department of Local Affairs to fund almost half the tank. The town will notified about this grant in the late summer or early fall.

The other half will be paid for by a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development, the town and the developer of the Creekside subdivision.

The report also recommended installing a hydrant that would allow the town to fill the water tank with treated Mancos Rural Water using a fire hose. The hydrant would be connected to a Mancos Rural Water line that runs by the water treatment plant. This is not one of the improvements that the town has been regularly discussing before the outage, and the report did not set a target date for its completion.

The report also suggested that Mancos sign a memo of understanding with the Mancos Fire District, Mancos Rural Water and Montezuma Water Co. on working together during emergencies. However, after meeting, the agencies decided a formal agreement was not necessary, Phillips said.

"We know we can count on them (and they on us) in the future," she said in an e-mail.

Town board is scheduled to get a full update on the February water report during the May 14 meeting in Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Public Works Director Robine Schmittel explains the need for a second water tower at the water treatment plant at a tour on Saturday. The town has applied for a grant to fund a second water tower. Enlargephoto

Mary Shinn/The Mancos Times

Public Works Director Robine Schmittel explains the need for a second water tower at the water treatment plant at a tour on Saturday. The town has applied for a grant to fund a second water tower.