Westminster staff present options for water treatment plant

Luke Zarzecki
lzarzecki@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/23/22

Westminster city staff presented five options for City Councilors to repair or replace the Semper Water Treatment plant at a June 20 study session meeting. 

“The Semper condition …

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Westminster staff present options for water treatment plant

Posted

Westminster city staff presented five options for City Councilors to repair or replace the Semper Water Treatment plant at a June 20 study session meeting. 

“The Semper condition assessment shows needed repairs, this isn’t a big surprise,” said Stepanie Bleiker, capital projects administrator. 

The most significant and timely repairs needed are for electrical and structural concrete issues. 

Bleiker presented five options that built on each other. The first was to rehabilitate Semper with the needed repairs and keep it as is. 

The second would be to add resiliency to those repairs, Blieker said. That means adding the ability to redirect the water to be refiltered if it is not clean enough to send to water customers, she said. Currently, Semper does not have that ability and city staff has to shut down the plant very quickly if the water isn’t up to par. 

The third would be to construct repairs, add resiliency and make Semper capable of treating water in difficult conditions, such as flooding, wildfires or other events with more organics in the water. 

The fourth and fifth options called for replacing the plant, either near the current Semper plant or someplace else.

She noted that not all upgrades need to happen at one time — staff can make room to add others in the future. 

Mayor Pro Tem David DeMott asked what the tradeoffs are for those services, and how much they would cost. 

“I imagine there will be some sort of trade off,” he said. 

Bleiker said city staff is currently going through the design and calculating the cost estimate. 

“There may be ways you take a single point of failure and say ‘putting in a parallel system may be more-than-makes-sense hypothetically,’ but there’s a way to make that point of failure less vulnerable,” she said. 

The last two options were to rebuild the plant at either an adjacent site or along Westminster Boulevard, a site previous councils had selected for new treatment plant. Bleiker said these options would get rid of all the vulnerabilities and would not salvage the current plant.

“We’re excited to bring a range of costs because that’s what they will be ready for in August,” she said.

City Councilor Bruce Baker said the cost of the upgrades is the most important aspect to him. He faulted the city staff for not producing the cost of the project at the meeting. 

DeMott said he also wanted to know the cost, but understands if the timeline is longer.

“I want to get it right, I want to understand the options and the tradeoffs” he said. 

Scrap or upgrade

“I’m not sure I’m at the rehab piece, I think if we’re going to put this kind of money into this, we need to know this is going to function, the question for me is, ‘where is it going to go?’” Mayor Nancy McNally said. 

City Councilor Obi Ezeadi agreed and said he is much more concerned with the rebuild options.  He said he has rehabbed houses in the past and there are always surprises.

“There’s always something, (Semper) is too important to fix this, fix that. I want to see a lot more options on the rebuild side,” he said. 

DeMott said his expectation was to look into how to update the site because all the pipes and other infrastructure already exist there. He has noted the high price tag of laying pipes to an entirely new facility in past meetings. However, if that’s not possible, he wants to see the different costs of rebuilding. 

“I’m thinking rebuild within the site and if that’s not the right site because it’s too cost-prohibitive, tell me what’s less,” he said. 

“Staff has said costs come along with the process and we will deliver them to you at a time when there’s a confidence interval you can rely on,” Interim City Manager Jody Andrews said.

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