Xcel, town nix water deal | SteamboatToday.com

Xcel, town nix water deal

Need too great for town facility; taxes too great for company

Nick Foster

The town of Hayden will not annex Xcel’s Hayden Station power plant and provide water filtration. Instead, Xcel will improve its existing water treatment facility to provide cleaner potable water to its employees.

“The impact for annexation was huge for them and us, too,” Town Manager Russ Martin said. “But that really wasn’t the issue. The issue was the water. Bringing water rights and storage was acceptable, but it would take our system’s ultimate capacity. Eventually, we would have to double our daily production, and we wanted to have more cushion than that.”

If the town provided Xcel with the amount of water it needs, it would force Hayden’s facility to produce as much as 1.5 million gallons per day. Even if the town installed a fourth pump at the facility, it would be able to produce only about 2 million gallons, Hayden Public Works Director Frank Fox said.

Xcel initially requested up to 20 gallons per minute to provide the required potable water, but said it would need up to 300 gallons per minute in the long term.

“That was the deal-breaker,” Martin said. “That amount would be too much for our plant to handle. The realistic nature of their request and the long-term impact just wasn’t in both of our long-term interests at this point.”

Xcel had sought to use Hayden’s water treatment facility to meet new clean-water standards from the Environmental Protection Agency. Xcel would have provided the necessary water rights and storage.

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Over the two weeks prior to making its final decision, the town studied the pros and cons of annexing the power plant so that providing it water would follow town code, which states that out-of-town water taps are not permitted.

Annexing Hayden Station would not only stretch police coverage and entail other town responsibilities, but it would almost double the power plant’s property taxes, Martin said. The property-tax hike was part of the deal-breaker for Xcel.

Hayden Station Director Frank Roitsch said Xcel has long considered improving its existing on-site water treatment facility to meet the new standards. He said those improvements should be in place a year from now.

“We’re pleased the town was willing to entertain the idea, so we could find out the best possible solution,” Roitsch said. “They said they couldn’t provide all of it, and we needed all or nothing.”

Having all the water from one source would keep the entire project simple, Roitsch said.

Martin called doubling anyone’s property tax “a very hard hill to climb.”

Martin and Fox made the decision together, and the issue will not have to go back to the Town Board, Martin said.

“I was glad (Xcel) came the town to ask,” Martin said. “It’s a good thing that business and government can work together. All the hard work that Frank (Roitsch) and (Civil Design Consultants) put in became very clear to me. From it, I understand our situation with water very clearly now.”

— To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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