Routt County will use pandemic aid for Milner, Phippsburg wastewater projects |

Routt County will use pandemic aid for Milner, Phippsburg wastewater projects

The wastewater treatment plant in Milner, seen here in 2011, is one of two lagoon-style plants in Routt County that need to be upgraded.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Routt County will use part of its $5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to help fund engineering work on wastewater treatment plants in Milner and Phippsburg.

The engineering work is expected to cost about $125,000 total for both plants, but if the county gets the desired grant, it would only be on the hook for half of that.

Routt County Environmental Health Director Scott Cowman said Tuesday, Feb. 15, the Phippsburg plant does have some reserves, which may be able to cover the $31,250 it would need, but Milner does not have access to that amount of money. He asked commissioners to use ARPA funds.

Cowman said part of this engineering work will be doing a rate study, which would reassess the water rates paid by users and whether they may need to be increased. While previously discussing the topic, officials have noted granting agencies are unlikely to fund a project if rates are too low.

If there would be any rate increases for either of the plants, Cowman said it would depend on a variety of factors, such as the cost of the replacement system and how the rest of the project is funded.

Assuming the systems are replaced with a more modern, mechanical plant, County Manager Jay Harrington said a rough estimate for total construction is about $3 million. He said construction costs will likely be covered by a combination of ARPA funds, reserves, loan opportunities and other grants.

Commissioners didn’t approve the grant proposals yet, but are expected to on Feb. 22.

“We’ve been talking about this since before I got here,” said Commissioner Beth Melton, who joined the board in 2019. “So investing in a long-term solution for these is a great use of this funding to me.”

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