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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

City slowing development north of 92nd Avenue to address sewer capacity issues

City slowing development north of 92nd Avenue to address sewer capacity issues

The City of Westminster has approved a 12-month moratorium on new applications for development in the area of the city generally north of 92nd Avenue to help address critical sanitary sewer capacity constraints.

The city moved quickly to impose the moratorium after further study of the system’s capacity made it clear additional steps were needed to protect public health and safety.

“This is a serious issue and we are being aggressive in exploring both short- and long-term solutions,” said Don Tripp, city manager. “Our priority as always is maintaining the integrity of the system to ensure public health and safety.”

Last month, when capacity issues first arose, the city announced it was expediting improvements in the Big Dry Creek basin, which has seen sewer flows increase by 40 percent since 2008.

While that work continues, the city also found it necessary to take steps to ensure additional demand was not placed on the system until improvements can be made. It could take up to 48 months for system improvements to come online.

The moratorium applies only to new applications for development in the basin that would increase demand on the Big Dry Creek Interceptor Sewer. Projects in the basin that do not increase the demand on the system or those projects that are not served by the Big Dry Creek Interceptor Sewer will be able to move forward. Projects in the Little Dry Creek basin are not affected.

In addition, current projects in the basin that have already been issued building permits have been accounted for in the sewer system demand analysis and are proceeding as planned.

A comprehensive analysis of the Big Dry Creek basin system is moving ahead, and it will address the design parameters, construction timeline and service delivery for the entire affected area.

At the same time, staff from Community Development, Economic Development, and Public Works and Utilities departments are exploring ways to provide incremental relief throughout the system where possible, alternative design approaches at particular sites, resource conservation measures to reduce demand on the system, and strategic planning for necessary easements or land acquisition.

“There are steps we can take right now to help address some of the capacity issues, and we’re actively exploring those,” said Max Kirschbaum, director of Public Works and Utilities. “This team will remain open to innovative ideas and will work collaboratively to generate a range of solutions and accelerate progress.”

The city has two sanitary sewer systems, with the dividing line roughly along 92nd Avenue. The Big Dry Creek basin system flows north for treatment to the Big Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility at 132nd Avenue and Huron Street. The Little Dry Creek basin system flows south out of the City for treatment by the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District plant in Denver. The Big Dry Creek Interceptor Sewer line runs from Standley Lake to the Big Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility. Future projects being served by this main line are impacted by the moratorium.

The city is currently completing a $26 million, 4-year project to upgrade the Little Dry Creek sewer system, and the final phase of work will be complete in early 2020. Planning for the Little Dry Creek project began in 2011. It was prioritized because the Little Dry Creek system had the oldest infrastructure in the city and pressing capacity issues as well.

Visit the Development Application Moratorium webpage for complete details

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