Sixty-five percent of sewer lines within the Cortez Sanitation District are vitrified clay or concrete pipes installed some 60 years ago. A $600,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs will soon help make a dent in replacing that deteriorating infrastructure.
The funding comes from the Tier II Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Funds program to help communities socially or economically impacted by the mineral and mineral fuels industries. The program distributes revenue from the state severance tax on energy and mineral production as well as a portion of the state’s share of royalties paid to the federal government for mining and drilling on federal land.
Jan Nelson, district manager for Cortez Sanitation District, said the district qualifies because there are many people living in the area who work in the mineral industry.
The $600,000 grant will assist in funding the $1.9 million Cortez Sanitation District Carpenter Area Sewer Replacement project. Nelson said the area around Carpenter Street, on the north side of town, was one of the first areas to receive sewer lines. The project will replace several brick manhole covers, a mile of sewer lines and will move sewer lines from the backyards or alleyways of 17 homes into the street. The new lines are made of PVC.
She said it was common in the 1950s and 1960s to install sewer lines in the alleys behind homes, but a lot of people have not kept those easements open. Sheds, patios and fences are on top of some of those lines now, Nelson said, making it difficult to access the sewer lines for maintenance.
“Those 17 homes will be the ones affected the most because we actually have to go in do construction in their yard and actually move lines and reconnect them out front,” Nelson said.
Lines on Carpenter Street require more cleaning and maintenance than other parts of the district, according to Nelson. She said they can’t even fit a camera through some pipes because they are offset or cracked.
The Cortez Sanitation District applied for $820,000 but DOLA awarded $600,000. Nelson said the district also received a $50,000 grant to cover planning costs. A loan from the State Revolving Fund will help cover the rest of the $1.9 million project.
“We’re not going in with a lot of cash on our side,” Nelson said.
Nelson said the district right now is focusing on getting this project done in 2019 and will try to do a little bit each year to upgrade the system.