With new housing developments on the horizon for Norwood, while some longtime residents face challenges with water pressure or quality, some are wondering what the future holds for Norwood water and its infrastructure. 

Norwood released its master plan for water one year ago, and the water commission intends to move forward. The lengthy document details plans for improvement and upgrades in the future. It acknowledges that pipe sizes range from 2-inches in diameter to 10-inches in diameter, and that those pipes traverse different pressure zones. Because of this, Norwood Water Commission is aware that there are low pressures in some places and some water quality issues.

In the summary, the water engineering firm SGM recommended that dead-end main lines be increased in size or looped in the future to help with low pressure. 

The summary adds that water age in storage is very long and negatively impacts chlorine levels. SGM recommends lowering the water age and also investigating water quality regarding chlorination. 

A new 10-inch line has been recommended from the existing water treatment plant to the blue 200,000 gallon storage tank on the west end of town. 

“This will allow for a redundant supply loop to the entire NWC supply,” the report says. Additionally, that new line would allow the second priority of replacing the existing 10-inch transmission line from the treatment plant to town. SGM says the existing line has “run to failure” and needs to be replaced. 

“Numerous other distribution line improvements are recommended for increased line size, looping and aging infrastructure,” the report says. 

As it stands, the water treatment plant has capacity for another 20 years, but afterward will need expansion. It’s now having some trouble meeting the regulations for disinfection requirements and chlorine requirements “at the same time.”

SGM went through the condition of aging infrastructure and assessed which parts where installed at what date and when they’ll need replaced. They also came up with a financial statement on the amounts of funding that will be required to address those. 

The current water service fees do not pay for replacement of aging infrastructure, and SGM recommends that service fees increase slowly over time to pay for the work and parts. 

Additionally Norwood Water Commission is looking at the feasibility of a diversion from the San Miguel River, to “serve as a second redundant source of year-round water.” SGM said grants and loans are available from the state to help fund such new supply projects. 

Regarding Redvale, the report states that the pipe travels 16 miles to provide service. That length and the storage tanks result in very long water age with low chlorine levels. That line also lacks adequate looping and doesn’t have the needed redundancy. There have been line leaks, pipe failures and water outages, the report acknowledges.

Currently the system services 800 taps. SGM recommends planning for 2 percent growth in a 20-year projection. They said the water treatment plant will likely need expanded or replaced in the 2030s. 

It could cost more than $5 million dollars to make the changes SGM says are important in the master plan. The firm gave an appendix in their report that lists possible sources of financial assistance, both at regional and state level. 

Norwood town administrator Patti Grafmyer said Norwood operates well within CDPHE’s regulations for safe drinking water. A Consumer Confidence Report was mailed in June of 2021 that shows “no violations for formal enforcement actions.” 

Regarding aging infrastructure, Grafmyer and other water engineers have said that’s the issue in rural America: “We all have aging infrastructure, some undersized lines, some over-appropriated lines, and we are all vying for the same funding,” she said. 

She added that increasing the number of taps with development only helps to push water through the system and storage tanks. It will not negatively affect water quality. 

And, the water commission is looking ahead. 

“Norwood Water Commission is moving toward applying for funding for engineering to access the water from the San Miguel,” she told The Norwood Post. “Most funding is a 50/50 match.”

Grafmyer said anyone with questions is welcome to attend a Norwood Water Commission meeting, held the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.