Yampa gets $180K from Routt County for wastewater plant replacement | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa gets $180K from Routt County for wastewater plant replacement

Current plant is nearly 50 years old and no longer meets state regulations

An aerial view of the town of Yampa taken in February 2022 from an EcoFlight tour of the Yampa Valley with Friends of the Yampa.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Routt County will give $180,000 to Yampa to support an effort to replace the town’s nearly 50-year-old wastewater treatment plant that is no longer keeping up with state regulations.

The lagoon-style plant was built in 1973 and updated a decade later, but like similar plants the county operates in Phippsburg and Milner, it is now struggling to meet seepage and other environmental requirements imposed by state regulators.

Mary Alice Page-Allen, who is treasurer and planner for Yampa and is leading the charge on this project, said Yampa is contributing $130,000 for design engineering right now, but the town’s share is expected to be higher in the end.

“We have to show up at the table,” Page-Allen said on Tuesday, Aug. 30. “That being said, that investment is limited by our resources. … What we can invest is what we will invest.”

The town contribution is about $100,000 in grant funding and about $30,000 in general fund revenues. Often, water system improvements are funded through rate increases for those connected, and Page-Allen said they are working to levy a 15% rate increase for now, and will conduct a rate study in October to see if more increases are necessary.

“That 15% increase will bring parity, to my understanding, of what other communities charge,” Page-Allen said.

But with just 250 connections in Yampa’s water system, Page-Allen said the project wouldn’t be possible without outside help. The county dollars will be used to match $200,000 in grant funding from the Colorado Department of Local Affair’s Energy Impact Assistance Fund.

This funding is for design engineering on the project. Yampa is using the same engineering firm Routt County is using to replace plants in Phippsburg and Milner, which Page-Allen said has sped the process along. The new plant will be a mechanical plant built off-site, the same that the county intends to use as well.

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“If we can join arms and order three at the same time, then I think there will be some economies of scale there for all of us that we can benefit from,” Page-Allen said.

The town’s request pointed to the nearly $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding the county received. Yampa received about $116,000 from the law.

Routt County’s share has technically already been spent on payroll and other typical government expenses, a move that frees up money elsewhere that doesn’t have the same federal reporting requirements and deadlines. Of the money freed up, most of that is spoken for.

Including these dollars, County Manager Jay Harrington said commissioners have allocated about $4.6 million of the “ARPA freed up funds.”

“Coming from a small town, and having been in a similar situation, I understand what a heavy lift that is,” said Commissioner Tim Redmond, who used to be mayor of Hayden. “This would be a good way to support a small community that is trying to do the right thing.”

Commissioners have given Oak Creek $80,000 for repairs at Sheriff Reservoir, $120,000 to the Morrison Creek Water and Sanitation District for a new wastewater plant, and $150,000 to the South Routt School District to support broadband infrastructure. Much of the rest is earmarked for the county’s new wastewater plants.

“I think if Yampa wasn’t incorporated, we’d be in the same situation that we were with Milner and Phippsburg,” Harrington said.

Commissioner Beth Melton was initially hesitant to allocate the entire request when considering what commissioners have given to other local entities, but Commissioners Tim Corrigan and Redmond both were supportive.

“We’ve got to take care of what we have,” Corrigan said.   

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