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I spoke with David Schneider, District Manager at Round Mountain Water and Sanitation District, who can find solutions hidden in plain sight. David has done an incredible job taking his district which was very reactionary to its problem to becoming a leader for other districts to follow. 

As an overview here are the top 3 lessons from David’s episode:  

  1. The Common Problem 
  2. A Cost-Effective Way to Upgrade Lagoons 
  3. Update on the Denver Housing Crisis 

Lesson #1: The Common Problem Heard by Water and Sewer Providers in Colorado. 

I asked David to explain to me the formation and history of Round Mountain Water and Sanitation District. As I listened to him describe where they are today, I realized, this is the same problem I have heard repeatedly. Round Mountain Water and Sanitation District was formed and run by “Mom and Pap” mentality. Whatever it took to get water and sewer to the house today without much planning for the future. 

As time goes on this can have an unintended effect. Problems are not anticipated but reacted to. Many rural water and sanitation districts don’t have capital improvement plans and are not planning for the future. This can cause the districts to have poor financial planning and create the inability to deal with ever changing rules and regulations published by CDPHE. 

Lesson #2: How to Upgrade a Lagoon to Meet CDPHE Standards 

David was in a tight situation. He spent 3 years working with a rather large engineering firm to get a project approved he couldn’t afford to treat their wastewater. After spending some time searching for affordable wastewater treatment solutions he came across electro-coagulation. This sounded funny to him, so he wrote it off. A few days later by happen chance a friend recommended to him to check it out. 

Fast forward to today, David and Round Mountain Water and Sanitation are working with Powell Water a group in Colorado that designs electrocoagulation to get this treatment technology approved in Colorado. David is using an existing wastewater treatment plant of similar size, capacity, and service area from Hydro, Oklahoma to help create a pilot study for how he came comply with CDPHE effluent limits.  

Lesson #3: How to Mix and Match Funding Sources

David always had to make do with not much growing up on a dirt-poor dairy farm. Round Mountain has to main issues needing addressing: Aging inaccurate water meters and a failing ground water well. 

The water meters consist of Badger water meter that were installed in 1991. As David mentions these were great meters but due to their age were estimated to be off by 4-8%. On top of that the districts main water source, a ground water well drilled in 1975, was failing. This well needed to be redrilled for Round Mountain to continue having access to their usual water rights instead of buying water from the state at a premium.  

David then attended a Special Districts Association conference. There he met with an engineering company that worked with the Colorado State Energy Office who could help him with an incentive program to replace water meters, while placing the guarantee back on the engineering company. 

His next task was to match the money together for each grant. He was then able to reach out to Department of Local Affairs and work with them so he could then capture money that has been lost to use that as matching money. David then applies for the DOLA grant against a pool of 70 other entities with only 3.5 million dollars available. With a thorough and compelling presentation was awarded $850,000. 

The bit of money that David needed to complete his project was provided in a low interest in the State Revolving Fund Loan. Fast forward to today and David has been able to capture 8% more revenue on water meter sales all while never having to do a rate increase to pay for the project. 

About Engineers for Communities 

We are here to allow smaller disadvantaged communities in Colorado and other states to connect on topics such as water, wastewater, city project planning, government funding, and everything in between. 

​​On the LIVE Engineers for Communities show, you’ll learn the hard-fought lessons from the front lines earned by various community leaders who have already had their teeth bashed in and lived to talk about it. We’ll share the tips, tricks, mindsets, and frameworks that allow great communities to preserve. Register to attend the live show, ask questions, and level up. It’s every Thursday starting at 12:00PM MT.