And the Water System of the Year goes to the Ute Water Treatment Plant. Colorado Rural Water Association recognized the Ute Water Treatment Plant for its outstanding efforts. The Ute Water Treatment Plant is located in Palisade, CO and it serves approximately 80,000 customers in the Grand Valley. Ute Water Treatment Plant was built in 1963 and has undergone many expansions since its inception. It is a conventional water treatment plant with a rated capacity of 26 MGD.
Ute Water has not had a regulatory violation since 2009. All required State Reports, laboratory analysis, CCRs, quarterly Discharge Monitoring Reports, Tier II reports, Section 9, as well as epichlorohydrin and acrylamide reporting are submitted on time. Additionally, Ute Water has been participating in AWWA’s Partnership for Safe Water program receiving the 10-Year Director’s Award in 2014.
Ute Water maintains the system facility in excellent condition. Ute Water is pro-active in keeping up with technology and staying ahead of all regulatory requirements. In 2009, four additional dual media filters were added and two of the existing filters were overhauled with new underdrains, filter media, launders, and filter-to-waste capabilities. Inclined plate settlers were added to our settling basin in 2013 reducing our average settled water from 1.8 to 0.3 ntu. Operations and maintenance staff are diligent in plant upkeep, with efforts based on a philosophy of keeping the facility ‘inspection ready’ at all times. A lighting retrofit throughout the plant was initiated in 2010 and has resulted in significant energy savings and better lighting. Electrical and natural gas usage have been reduced by 30-40% over the past 4 years. All piping is color-coded and labeled. Chemical day tanks and storage tanks are cleaned routinely. All preventative maintenance and corrective maintenance occurs at recommended intervals. Staff follows all Water Treatment Best Practices including annual filter surveillance and media analysis.
Ute Water provides employee advancement and training opportunities. Ute Water Treatment Plant is staffed by 4 operators, 2 maintenance/operators, 3 laboratory staff, an Assistant Superintendent who specializes in automation and controls, and a Superintendent. Eight of our twelve staff members have A level water licenses. Ute Water values highly skilled and educated staff; our pay structure reflects the value that Ute Water places on highly competent staff. Staff members are encouraged to attend training off-site. In-house training is provided on an annual basis to ensure employees are properly trained in areas such as Hazard Communication, Emergency Response Procedures, Respirator Wearer Safety, Chlorine Safety, Personal Protective Equipment, and other safety topics specific to our facility. Our Standard Operating Procedures book is updated and expanded on as procedures change. Our Emergency Response Plan, Continuity of Operations Plan, and Monitoring Plan are reviewed and updated annually. There is cross training for all essential tasks at the water treatment plant. The workplace culture at this facility is one of teamwork, dedication to excellence, and continuous improvement.
Ute Water Conservancy District is well managed financially, which provides the ability to fund capital improvement projects to maintain and replace infrastructure and to fund our operations budget. But it takes more than money to maintain a system; it takes staff and management who are motivated. Each project must be initiated by our staff, approved by our Board of Directors, and followed through to completion. Ute Water’s Assistant Manager is very motivated to make this facility as robust and ready for the future as possible. Some current projects are the addition of a hydro-generator, an expansion and revitalization of our emergency Colorado River pump stations, and installation of a Solar Bee Mixer in our primary reservoir.
Ute Water is very involved in our community. Ute Water sponsors, and is very active in Mesa County’s Annual Children’s Water Festival. Over 2,000 5th grade students from around the Grand Valley attend this event to learn about water. Ute Water has hosted CDPHE Excellence Training at our facility. Ute Water participates in the Mesa County Leadership Program through the Mesa County Chamber of Commerce; one of the days is titled “Water in the West” and a tour of the Ute Water Treatment Plant is part of that training day. We provide tours of the water treatment plant to school groups and community groups throughout the year. As an organization, Ute Water strives to be a leader in the community and in the water industry.
Thank you for recognizing the Ute Water Treatment Plant for Water System of the Year. Staff at this facility work very hard and feel honored to be awarded by the Colorado Rural Water Association.