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On Tuesday, December 3, the Salida City Council hosted a joint work session with the Town of Poncha Springs Board of Trustees. The purpose of the special work session was to receive a presentation of preliminary findings from engineering consultants on a draft of the 2019 Salida Sewer Collection System Infrastructure Build-Out Plan. Salida’s wastewater service area includes both the municipalities of the City of Salida and Town of Poncha Springs.

A Joint Work Session between City of Salida and Town of Poncha Springs was held Dec. 3 to begin consideration of needs for the wastewater collection system infrastructure. (Photo by Taylor Sumners)

Why might improvements be needed now?

During the summer of 2019, flow monitors indicated peak flows occupying as much as 55 percent of the capacity of the sewer trunk line serving the Town of Poncha Springs. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also recommends planning and design for expansion to commence at 80 percent of capacity, with construction underway when reaching 95 percent of capacity.

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the wastewater collection system infrastructure for the existing, planned, and full built-out conditions within the wastewater service area. The results of the plan included: pipe resizing needed to accommodate future development, capital improvement recommendations to existing infrastructure, budgetary cost estimates and sewer rate forecasting.

The plan identified that the sewer trunk line servicing the Town of Poncha Springs is approaching capacity and will ultimately need to be replaced and made larger to accommodate recent development and future growth in the Town. The plan also recommends continuous data collection over the course of 2020 to monitor flow rates, refine projections and provide recommendations.

With the current growth trend and desire to begin proactive management of these improvements, the Salida City Council believes that it is imperative that they begin this process now and not “kick the can down the road any further”, in order to protect the assets they have for current residents and ratepayers. The Poncha Springs Trustees had questions regarding the timing that the Salida Council appears to believe is necessary. Poncha Springs Town Administrator Brian Berger provided a translation of the study’s findings of projected flow rates into his town’s projected housing units, showing that the town would need to add more than 10,000 new housing units before improvements will be required.

Salida Mayor P.T. Wood pointed out that long-term planning should be done now, so that 30-year financial commitments can be better organized and planned.

The next step for both municipalities is the creation of a working group in the near future to continue the dialog and plan for future improvements. The City of Salida will also begin to investigate financing options and costs for any recommended future construction.

The Salida City Council commissioned the plan to assist the city in delivering quality services to its customers while ensuring that infrastructure remains viable into the future. Those assembled agreed that continuing study is needed to help predict when the capacity milestones might be reached.  This is challenging due to variables like the types of new units being planned and when they might come on line.

In addition, the City of Salida 2020 Budget includes more than $500,000 in investments in equipment and data monitoring to ensure that the system operates as efficiently as possible. The City of Salida elected officials indicated they are fulfilling their responsibilities to collaboratively plan for the future of the system. The Salida City Council indicated that they anticipate that the Poncha Springs Board of Trustees will continue to be proactive and help develop solutions to the pending capacity issues.

The presentation of preliminary findings can be found on the City of Salida website: The final version of the plan will be posted on the same website on December 16th .