Xcel Energy requesting potable H2O

Xcel Energy is requesting up to 20,000 gallons of water per day from the town of Hayden for its Hayden Station power plant.

Hayden Station Director Frank Roitsch came before the Town Board late last year to ask whether the town could provide potable water to the power plant, and Public Works Director Frank Fox determined it was possible, but he needed details.

Those details recently were released by Civil Design Consultants Inc. and state that Hayden Station would need a maximum of 20,000 gallons of potable water per day and use an average of 15,000 gallons per day.

The Town Board will discuss these details at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Town Hall.

Town Manager Russ Martin met with Fox and they determined that they should avoid "dancing around the issues" on this proposal, Martin said.

So, in a letter to the Town Board, the two said that for Hayden Station to use town water, Xcel Energy, operator of the power plant, must be willing to consider annexation, consider transferring or leasing water rights sufficient to withstand any river call in drought conditions, and consider a minimal initial cost of $140,400 plus initial costs of manpower, equipment, materials and construction of any associated costs of a line extension.

The $140,400 is not what Xcel would have to pay, Martin said, but rather an estimate by relative impact. Xcel's request of up to 20,000 gallons per day is the equivalent of 36 residential water taps at peak demand multiplied by the residential tap fee of $3,900. This is what the town would charge for such water usage from residents, so Xcel must at least consider this cost, Martin said.

"We decided, let's not waste any more time," Martin said. "If we really want to pursue this, we need to tell (Xcel) what we need them to consider. It doesn't mean they have to do those things, but they have to be willing to discuss those and the potential benefits and those things. If they are not willing to discuss those, we're wasting Frank (Fox)'s time and CDC's and Xcel's time."

The big debate is determining whether the town wants to use its recently renovated water treatment plant to supply the power plant with the water, in light of all the future development that has been planned.

The current treatment capacity at the water treatment facility is 1 million gallons per day. It produces only about 400,000 gallons to meet current demand.

There are 542 residential taps, each using a yearly average of 6,800 gallons per month, with a large curve during peak summer months for irrigation. The average residential usage is 17,000 gallons per tap in July, according to a report from Doug Bradfield of CDC.

In the summer, the water treatment plant has produced more than 800,000 gallons to meet demand.

Therefore, the treatment facility has the capacity to meet Xcel's request.

"No improvements would be needed," Bradfield said. "What's really happening is the Town Board needs to consider is if this in the best interest of its customers. If they want to meet the need of the Hayden power station, they need to consider at some point their ability to provide residents with water would be reduced in future."

The Town Board also would have to consider annexation if it were to stay within its ordinance of providing water only to in-town properties. If the power plant was not annexed and the Town Board opted to allow Hayden Station to use town water, the board would have to waive that ordinance or modify it.

-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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