The Town of Merino received a Drinking Water Enforcement Order on January 16, 2009 for violations of Uranium levels exceeding EPA standards. The State of Colorado Enforcement order was originally set for December 1, 2011 for the drinking water problem to be corrected.
In March of 2011 a group of Merino citizens were appointed as a committee to investigate solutions for drinking water violations and sewer permit violation. For the past two years this group and town council members have researched various options for correction for the high uranium levels. The compliance schedule was renegotiated with the State to be completed by December 31, 2013.
At present a $1,000,000 forgiveness grant (Division of Water and Power Authority) and a loan of $100,000 has been secured for the expense to help with bringing the water into compliance with EPA standards.
The solution to the problem will likely be to treat approximately ½ of the drinking water with ion exchange or a reverse osmosis system and then to blend it with regular water, which in turn will lower the uranium level.
Working with Rocky Mountain Water Solutions, the Town has submitted a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) to investigate the available options and solutions, as well as made subsequent revisions, but at current the Town is still working with the state to identify a treatment option that is both economically viable and permissible with various State waste discharge regulations.
Part of the project will include water meters for all water pits, regardless of what treatment option is used. The Town of Merino will study the water usage at each pit and determine a fair rate schedule for consumers.
Also as a consideration is a new 90,000 gallon tower (to be located behind Merino Town Hall) and is currently planned but will depend on the cost of the water treatment option.
Once a solution has been approved by the State we will renegotiate a viable schedule to complete the water system improvements, as the delays in finding an approvable solution have made the current schedule unachievable.