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PAWSD receives grant for energy efficiency audit

A $10,000, no-match grant received by the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District will allow PAWSD to complete a planned energy-efficiency audit of its Vista Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF).

The grant, which was expected and budgeted for in 2010, was awarded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment through its Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund on Feb. 12.

PAWSD has contracted with engineering firm MWH Americas, Inc. to complete the audit and a technical report on energy use at the facility. It is anticipated that the audit will be complete by early summer — early enough to consider potential improvements before the 2011 budget cycle.

“This grant will almost fully reimburse the District for the cost of the audit,” said Sheila Berger, PAWSD special projects manager.

The audit will analyze all Vista WWTF operations, such as the future bio-solids beneficial use component of the Highlands Lagoon Elimination Project that has been funded by federal stimulus money from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

According to a PAWSD press release, “Given the increased sewage load due to the elimination of the Highlands Lagoon treatment facility and given the availability of new energy-efficient technologies, the District anticipates receiving several recommendations for operational and technical improvements.”

The $9.3 million Highlands Lagoon Elimination Project commenced Phase 2 on Feb. 12, a phase that includes the installation of a secondary centrifuge and construction of a bio-solids beneficial use facility — an addition to the Vista WWTF.

The press release further explains that PAWSD staff will hold monthly meetings with La Plata Electric Association personnel “in order to dovetail areas for system-wide reductions in energy consumption with this Vista WWTF energy efficiency analysis.

“Ultimately, the cost savings to the district by optimizing our operations will result in savings to the customer,” said Assistant District Manager Gene Tautges. “It is our obligation to PAWSD customers and the environment to be as energy efficient as possible.”