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Work Starts on 20-mile Pipeline to Protect Water Quality for Boulder, 3 Other Providers

August 31, 2018

Crews work Thursday on a stretch of new water pipeline between 63rd and 73rd Streets near Nimbus Road. When complete, the 20-mile pipeline will provide water to Boulder, Berthoud and the Left Hand and Longs Peak water districts.

Construction started this week on a new 20-mile, $44 million steel pipeline that will deliver water from Carter Lake in Larimer County to the city of Boulder, town of Berthoud, and Left Hand and Longs Peak water districts.

Work on the pipeline, known as phase two of the Southern Water Supply Project, is being overseen by Northern Water, which manages Carter Lake as part of the Colorado Big-Thompson Project.

Once complete, the pipeline will improve water quality and delivery reliability compared to the open, above-ground Boulder Feeder Canal that currently brings water from Carter Lake to Boulder Reservoir.

The new pipeline will pump 50 cubic feet per second of Colorado-Big Thompson and Windy Gap Project water, with Boulder receiving the bulk of the water among participants at the Boulder Reservoir Water Treatment plant, the pipeline’s terminus.

Boulder will receive 32 cubic feet per second and bear $32 million of the cost, according to city spokeswoman Gretchen King, while Left Hand Water District — which serves a 130-square-mile area between Longmont and Boulder — will receive 12 cubic feet per second and pay about $8 million for its share of the project.

“Boulder is excited to partner with neighboring water providers to construct this important project,” Boulder’s Director of Public Works for Utilities Jeff Arthur stated in a Northern Water news release. “The pipeline will greatly improve the resilience of Boulder’s water supply and help provide consistently high-quality source water to our treatment facilities. The collaborative approach provides a unique opportunity for the partners to meet their customers’ needs in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.”

Left Hand will have another $2 million of cost from the district’s addition of a hydroelectric generator at the intersection of the new Southern Water Supply pipeline and the entrance to the district’s Dodd Water Treatment Plant. The generator will produce enough power to satisfy about a third of the plant’s electricity need, according to district Manager Christopher Smith.

“It’s becoming more feasible as the (hydroelectric) technology advances. The price is getting to where there’s a payoff,” Smith said, noting the savings from the power generated is expected to match the $2 million in added cost within 15 years.

Berthoud and Longs Peak Water District — which serves Boulder and Weld County residents in an area north of Longmont — will each receive 3 cubic feet per second, but on Thursday officials from the town and district could not to provide their share of the costs of the remaining $4 million for the project.

Smith noted the pipeline, which has an estimated completion date of March 2020, will not only further protect water quality, but also will allow year-round water delivery to Left Hand Water District’s Dodd Water Treatment Plant.

“During some portions of the year the pipeline will act as the primary source of raw water for the participants in the project,” the Northern Water release states.

Currently, the Boulder Feeder Canal is offline from Oct. 31 to April 1 annually, Smith said. When the canal is down, so, too, is the Dodd Water Treatment Plant.

“It’s a huge deal for water quality. We’ll continue using the feeder canal and blend water (with the pipeline’s supply), but during the flood of 2013, the Dodd Plant (was forced to) close a month early ... at a period of high demand,” he said. “The pipeline would have prevented that.”

When the pipeline is complete, the Dodd Plant will be open year-round.

The first 12 miles of new pipeline, from Carter Lake to St. Vrain Road in Longmont, will parallel the existing Southern Water Supply Project pipeline, which was runs to Broomfield and was completed in 1999.

From St. Vrain Road, the new pipeline will continue south to the Boulder Reservoir Treatment Plant.

Northern Water lists four roads and a trail in Boulder County — Monarch Road, 75th Street, Nimbus Road, St. Vrain Road and the Lagerman Open Sky Loop Trail — on its project website that will be impacted by pipeline construction.

Whether there will be full road closures or lane closures is not yet known by the Boulder County Transportation Department, spokesman Andrew Barth said.

To view a map of the new Southern Water Supply Project’s route, visit www.northernwater.org/sf/swspii/maps-info/project-map.

Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, slounsberry@prairiemountainmedia.com and twitter.com/samlounz .

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