Red Cliff, Colo., Meets Stiff Stimulus Requirements

The town of Red Cliff, Colo., population 350, is getting a new plant, the Red Cliff Wastewater Treatment Facility, using $2 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and a block grant from Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

The town broke ground at the site late last month.Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Susan Kirkpatrick said, "This project is one of only three in the state of Colorado funded in part with American Reinvestment and Recovery Act dollars for infrastructure."

"The timing had to be just right to make this work. We had to be 'dirt-ready' when the stimulus dollars became available, and then we had to jump through all the hoops to make sure all the engineering was completed and approved," said Red Cliff Mayor Ramon Montoya. "Funding has been very difficult, and this project almost failed several times."

John McLain, senior project manager and a rincipal at Baseline Engineering in Golden, Colo., said, "It was about five years ago that we were engaged to fix what we all saw as a major environmental issue." At that time, Red Cliff was No. 1on EPA's wastewater discharge violators list and out of compliance with regulations. The plant discharges into the Eagle River upstream of several other towns and is tributary to the Colorado River. The road to construction occurred in baby steps since 2004 as Baseline undertook Master Planning, Site Application, Environmental Assessment and Preliminary Design in a stop and start fashion as the various funding agencies pulled the project in different directions.

"It was a tough road, but that is what we are here for," said McLain. "The last few months leading up to September 29th were very intense. If the project wasn't executed perfectly, approved and shovel ready, we would have lost the funding and been back at square one. I understand now why only three projects in Colorado were funded by ARRA – it was very difficult to meet the requirements and the deadlines." The plant is expected to be up and running by August of 2010.

"This project required strenuous collaboration among local, state and federal governments to leverage expertise and dollars to solve problems. DOLA's mission is to strengthen Colorado communities and we only accomplish our objectives through partnerships with leaders like Baseline," said Kirkpatrick in a letter to Gov. Ritter.

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