Town identifies water supply risks

CENTER — Center trustees and Center Mayor Herman Sisneros attended the third in a series of several workshops presented by water specialist Colleen Williams with the Colorado Rural Water Association Tuesday to identify contamination risks in the town.
The presentation was part of a program that helps the town earn points for a $5,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to eventually develop a water protection plan for the town. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The town has already earned $2,800 in funding points for developing its water protection plan, Williams said.
The Lazy KV Homeowners Association, the town of Saguache and Valley View Hot springs have already implemented plans with the program. In addition to Center, Williams is presently working with Salida and Crestone.
The steps in the plan include:
• Organizing a planning team and identifying stakeholders
• Presentation for developing a water protection plan
• Staking out a source water protection area
• Identifying contaminant sources, key issues and sharing information
• Development of management approaches to decrease risks to water sources
• Writing and reviewing a draft water source protection plan
• Implementation of a 2017 action plan and grant spending
The meeting Tuesday focused primarily on identifying and classifying risks to the town’s wells and creating awareness about the different potential threats in and around the town to its water supply. Four of the risks to the town were identified as high and two as catastrophic.
The primary threat to Center consists of an anhydrous ammonia fertilizer plant located north of the town presenting a possible explosive hazard.
The trustees and mayor helped rate the risk potentials as follows:
• Spills on roads — significant and likely; high risk
• Railroad spill (fertilizer transported mainly by rail) — potentially catastrophic impact, possible; high risk
• Fuel storage spills — possible, significant: moderate risk
• Irrigation ditch (canal water — possible, insignificant; low risk
• Agricultural land (fertilizers, aerial spraying, pesticides) — major impact, likely; high risk
• Agricultural facilities storing liquid fertilizer — likely, with possible catastrophic consequences; high risk
• Residential hazardous waste storage — possible, but minor impact
• Home auto repair businesses — possible, but minor impact
• Sewer system pipe breaks — possible, minor; moderate risk
Catastrophic impacts to the water system would cause irreversible damage to water sources and might involve the replacement of those sources. Major impacts could see substantial damage to water sources and loss of use for an extended period of time before repairs are made. Significant losses equal moderate damage and could also mean extended loss of use of the water sources and the need to increase monitoring and maintenance activities.
Williams also produced a map identifying the area surrounding Center area that had excessive nitrates in the water supplies over 10 ppm, considered the dangerous point. Levels ranged from three over 10 ppm (13, 14, 17) to others over the 17 ppm mark, (19, 20 24). Williams noted these levels were found in shallow wells and should not affect Center’s deep-well water supply.
Williams set the next meeting for Oct. 24, with Center staff scheduled to meet from 3:30-4:30 p.m. and the community meeting set from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

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