The City of Rifle ordinarily draws our drinking water from the Colorado River which is then placed into supply ponds. Due to the ongoing drought, low river flows and warm river temperatures, there have been algal blooms in both the river and the supply ponds which may cause taste and odor problems.
Recent mudslides in the Grizzly Creek burn scar area have resulted in debris flowing into the Colorado River upstream from Rifle. As a result, the City has temporarily isolated our drinking water by shutting down the river intake and drawing from the supply ponds. This prevents sediment, small debris and any residual fire retardants from entering the system.
Without continuous fresh river water, there is potential for increased algal growth in the supply ponds. Our Utility Department staff is working diligently to reduce the severity of algal blooms and counteract taste and odor problems. This includes additional pre-oxidation treatment, deploying a series of submerged aeration units, enlarging the river channel and refilling the pond more frequently as weather-related to upstream debris flows allow.
If you own a swamp cooler, it is fairly common for algae to grow regardless of the water source since it is a perfect environment for growth. Algae absorb heat, sunshine and airborne nutrients caught by the filter. One step to minimize this is to allow the filters to dry by shutting off your cooler for a period of time each day. Other areas of standing water will produce similar growth.
As to a more robust attack on taste and odor, the City could construct a Reverse Osmosis / Granular Activated Carbon (RO/GAC) facility which may address the issue. Below is from a recent rate study / CIP (capital improvement project) regarding costs in 2016 dollars for a RO/GAC facility.
The facility would be physically separated from the water plant and a new disinfection contact basin and finished water pump station would be needed. There were two proposed alternatives.
The first was to construct the whole facility at a 2016 estimated cost of $46,856,000. The second alternative presented a phased approach to construction which would allow for future expansion as needed. The 2016 cost estimate for this approach was $35,098,000.
Being concerned about any water rate increases, past City Councils have not approved such a project. If adjusted for 2022 dollars, water rates would need to significantly increase to handle such an expense.
We will continue to do our best to bring high-quality water to the citizens of Rifle.
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