Water works: Greeley officials hope water infrastructure investments will last decades
More than 50 years after its last major investment in water infrastructure, Greeley is again planning for the future with multi-million dollar projects aimed at satisfying its residents’ thirst for decades to come.
Twenty-five miles of pipeline, 60 inches in diameter, will soon be capable of carrying all the water Greeley needs — for now.
The new pipeline, the first installed in more than 50 years, runs from Greeley’s Bellvue Water Treatment Plant in the Poudre Canyon to Colo. 257, just 4 miles from Greeley’s Gold Hill treated water reservoir. That’s the big hill south of U.S. 34 with the water tower on top.
The 60-inch pipeline joins two other pipelines that flow water from Bellvue. The new one is steel, coated in composite material on the outside and concrete inside to prevent rust. The new pipeline should have water flowing through it in a few weeks, officials say, after a few tests.
The pipeline will be able to handle 70 million gallons per day. To put that in perspective, both of Greeley’s treatment plants put out 42.8 million gallons Aug. 1, the highest usage in the past month.
“We’re making an investment we hope is going to last as long as the previous investment,” said Burt Knight, Greeley’s Water and Sewer Department director, discussing the need for the upgrade.
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Knight said folks who deal in water can’t wait for things to break down or reach capacity — a common refrain for Colorado roadways.
“If we did that, when you go to turn on your faucet, you’d get nothing,” Knight said.
So they invest now, and they invest bigger than they need now because they know Greeley will continue to grow.
They’re making another investment, too.
If you follow the pipeline from north of Windsor, just north of the Poudre, west, you’ll reach the Bellvue plant.
Come spring, the city will spend $22-25 million to upgrade the plant’s treatment capabilities.
Before we get too far down the pipeline, let’s go back to this past spring. That’s when water pumped out of the Bellvue plant earned first place in a national taste test.
So, if Greeley has the best tasting water in the nation, why are officials spending tens of millions to upgrade the system?
Bob Neal, Water and Sewer Department operations manager, answers simply.
“It’s getting a bit dated,” Neal said.
The plant went through some minor upgrades in 2007, but the impending upgrades will essentially replace half the plant. It’s the biggest upgrade to Bellvue since 1947.
“We definitely hope and we count on this new facility we’re building will last like the one before,” Knight said.
There won’t be any interruption in service while construction goes on. Once everything is complete, just in time for spring runoff in 2019, it’s just a matter of turning a few valves.
— Tyler Silvy covers government and politics for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at email@example.com. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.
Water treatment plants
» Bellvue Water Treatment Plant
In 1905, Greeley’s 5,000 residents voted whether to go to the mountains for high quality drinking water. Those in favor of the water infrastructure won by a landslide; 97 percent of the voters approved the measure. It took two years to build the Bellvue Water Treatment Plant. The site was completed in 1907. The other important component in the process was the 36-mile wooden transmission pipeline that conveyed the water from the Bellvue Plant to Greeley. The original plant has been enlarged and upgraded several times before being replaced by conventional filtration in 1946-47 and was most recently upgraded in 2007. The Bellvue Plant can treat 21 million gallons of water per day and operates 365 days per year.
» Boyd Lake Water Treatment Plant
The Boyd Lake Treatment Plant provides seasonal drinking water to Greeley water customers. This facility produces 38 million gallons per day. The plant supplements the Bellvue Water Treatment Plant by providing additional water in times of high demand. The plant was built in 1964 and was last upgraded in 2005. The Boyd Lake Plant also serves as back-up for the Bellvue Plant in case of an emergency. The plant’s raw water supply comes from both Boyd Lake and Lake Loveland. The treated water from this plant must be pumped to the city’s finished water reservoirs.