Good morning, and happy Friday. Polls closed for the 2022 primary elections on Tuesday at 7 p.m., yet we still don’t know who won the open seat on the Boulder County commission, the most competitive local contest on the ballot. We explain what’s happened, and what’s next 👇. Tim Drugan takes a look at the multimillion-dollar upgrades to the city’s water treatment plants, why you’ll see your water bills rising, and the complicated factors that go into these local infrastructure decisions.

We’re off July 4. Enjoy your holiday, and we’ll see you next week. Our summer membership campaign officially ends Monday. Please consider joining the more than 530 BRL members who already support our work. Thank you in advance!

Stacy, publisher

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment’s mobile Covid-19 vaccine clinic at Out Boulder County in Boulder on June 23, 2022. Both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines are now available to children six months and older. Credit: Stacy Feldman

Quickly

🌦️ Showers in store: Expect mostly cloudy conditions and highs near 80 today, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Temps should tick up to the mid-to-upper 80s this weekend, with continued chances for isolated rain.

🆕 42-vote lead for Stolzmann: Just 42 votes separate the two candidates for county commissioner, Elaina Shively, director of the Center for Prevention and Restorative Justice at the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, and Louisville Mayor Ashley Stolzmann, a chemical engineer. The results of the election may not be known until July 7. There are about 2,500 remaining ballots, many of which were held for privacy reasons.

🧮 Heading for a recount? If the current margin holds, it would trigger a recount. According to the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder, a recount would be required if the margin of victory is less than or equal to .5% of the winner’s vote. Recounts happen after the election is certified by a canvas board, which is planned for Monday, July 18. Candidates can also call for a recount within 28 days after the election, according to the county clerk.

🛠️ Fix your ballot: There are 902 ballots that could potentially be counted, according to data from the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder. Most lacked signatures or had a signature discrepancy. Those voters should receive a letter with instructions for how to cure their ballots. You can also check whether your ballot needs to be cured by requesting data from the county. The ballots have to be cured by July 7 to be counted. The ballots belong to 413 Democrats, 414 unaffiliated voters, and 75 Republicans, according to the county. The average age of the voters who need to cure their ballots is 39, the data show.

✍️ Latest move on local gun control: The Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, July 5 will discuss five new gun-control laws for unincorporated areas of Boulder County. The laws represent the latest move to enact local gun violence prevention measures since state lawmakers allowed local governments to pass gun ordinances that are stricter than state ones. The ordinances include raising the age to purchase a firearm to 21, a 10-day waiting period for gun purchases, restrictions on carrying in “sensitive public places,” a ban on the sale of assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines, and a prohibition on possession of guns without a serial number, also known as “ghost guns.” Earlier this month, similar measures were adopted in the City of Boulder, Louisville, Superior and Lafayette. 

🧯 Fire Thursday at Wapos restaurant: Via the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office: “The building [at 4929 Broadway] was occupied by employees at the time of the fire and evacuate[d] before we arrived. There were no injuries reported. The building sustained significant damage. The Multi-Agency Fire Investigation Team (MAFIT) will investigate the cause and origin of the fire.”

🎆 Fireworks and fire restrictions: With the July 4 holiday ahead, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office is reminding residents that fireworks are prohibited in areas under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions: “We mean absolutely none. No sparklers, no fountains, no spinners, no rockets. Bottom line, we highly recommend that you leave the fireworks to the professionals and attend a local show.”

🚲 E-Bike Rebates: Longmont residents can get up to a $1,000 rebate on the purchase of a new e-bike. The offer is limited to “one rebate per customer and one bike per rebate,” according to the city. All residents are eligible for a $500 rebate, with income-qualified residents able to double that amount with an extended rebate. Apply here.

🌊 Flood plan feedback: The City of Boulder is seeking feedback on its updated Flood and Stormwater Master Plan draft through July 10. “The master plan guides how we manage floods and stormwater (water from rain or snowmelt) and how we can best protect people, ecosystems and property from their impacts,” according to Be Heard Boulder, the city’s online engagement platform. Read the plan here and here, and register here to take the survey.  

📹 Coalton Trailhead cam is back: The live feed is working once again, so you can now check parking capacity and conditions there as well as Carolyn Holmberg Preserve, Heil Valley Ranch (Corral Trailhead), Pella Crossing, Ron Stewart Preserve, Walker Ranch. Tune in here.

Featured Story

Boulder’s plan to upgrade its aging water infrastructure system enters next phase this summer, with 63rd Street project

By Tim Drugan

The post-World War II Economic Expansion, from the end of the war until the early 1970s, brought forth an influx of birth rates, rising consumerism, and a realization that improved infrastructure was needed to support the surging population. In Boulder, the town grew from roughly 20,000 people in 1950 to nearly 70,000 in 1970. 

As Stephen Grooters, the civil engineering manager for the potable side of Boulder’s water system said: “Infrastructure is most useful when it’s built before it’s needed.”

So in the 1960s, engineers and contractors in Boulder designed and constructed two water treatment plants to serve the town. One, Betasso, sits in the foothills up Boulder Canyon. The other, on 63rd Street, shares proximity with Boulder Reservoir. 

Today, Boulder’s population is more than 50% higher than it was in the 70s, and those two water treatment plants serving this heightened population provide a fail-safe.

The issue with building a lot of new infrastructure in the same period, however, means a lot needs maintenance around the same time. Both of Boulder’s water treatment plants contain aging mechanisms in need of upgrades. Electrical components, pumps and treatment machinery thus far given only minor repairs, are now in need of overhauls.

The Betasso treatment plant was the first to be tackled. From 2016 to 2019, a $30 million improvement project restored the plant’s capacity to its original 40 million gallons per day (MGD), which had been reduced to 28 MGD due to aging systems. With some preliminary site work happening this summer and heavy construction beginning in the fall, the 63rd Street treatment plant is getting a similar makeover that will persist until the summer of 2025. 

The 63rd Street water treatment plant (rated at 16 MGD) project will upgrade the plant’s power supply and electrical components, as well as the high service pump station: the existing treatment process on the campus which, according to the city’s website: “is the sole source of [water] supply to the distribution system from the 63rd [treatment plant].” The estimated cost of $27 million is a fraction of the $250 million the town would have to shell out to replace the plant.

These projects, and others like them, are paid for by the water utility bill that comes monthly to all using city water. Such rates are increasing, by about 7% for water, 5% for wastewater and 12% for stormwater and flood management.

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BRL Picks

🚌 Public transit challenge: Want to explore the Boulder-Denver region while skipping the traffic and helping the planet? You could win $150 by participating in RTD’s Flatiron Flyer Rider Challenge. Just take the public transit line whenever you’re cruising to Denver or another stop along US Hwy 36. Register here and log your trips here for a chance to win.

📚 Book Queeries: Boulder Public Library’s LGBTQ book club for teens, Book Queeries, will meet on Wednesday, July 13, to discuss Asylum: A  Memoir & Manifesto by Edafe Okporo. Register here and get your free copy while supplies last. Discussion will take place at Out Boulder County, 3340 Mitchell Ln., 6:30–7:30 p.m.

♻️ Compost workshops: Boulder County Resource Conservation presents the return of virtual and in-person compost workshops. Events take place Monday, July 18, 6–8 p.m. (via Zoom) and Saturday, July 23, 10 a.m.–noon (in-person). Register for either workshop here.

Covid-19 Updates: July 1, 2022

  • 219 daily new cases (7-day avg.) ⬆️Up 12% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 8 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) Down from a high of 17 last week.
  • 55% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 69% since July 2020.

What We’re Reading

📖 July 4 closures in Boulder: “All City of Boulder administrative facilities, public libraries and Age Well Centers will be closed Monday, July 4, for the Independence Day holiday.” Open facilities and services include: Scott Carpenter pool, East Boulder Community Center, Boulder Reservoir and Flatirons Golf Course. [City of Boulder]

📖 Little recovery expected for Colorado’s low reservoirs: “As back-to-back drought years continue to reduce snowpack and spring runoff, Colorado’s reservoirs are seeing little to any recovery in storage levels, members of the state’s Water Availability Task Force said Tuesday. ‘It’s going to be a challenge for this year and the forseeable future until we get a banner snowpack year,’ said Karl Wetlaufer, assistant snow survey supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and a task force member.” [Fresh Water News]

📖 Troubling findings in Colorado LGBTQ youth survey: “Fewer than half of transgender, nonbinary, gay, lesbian, and bisexual Colorado youth said they feel like they belong at their school, according to a biennial health survey. More than a quarter of transgender youth who took the survey reported attempting suicide in the previous year. Those are some of the alarming findings of the Healthy Kids Colorado survey, which is administered every two years. Local LGBTQ+ educators and advocacy organizations said it’s important that schools, teachers, parents, and lawmakers pay attention.” [Chalkbeat Colorado]

ICYMI from BRL

⛑️ ‘This job changes you’: Front Range firefighters say they’re struggling with mental health, but support is still lacking. “First responders are on the cusp of having a huge mental health crisis,” says Tyler Avischious, a local firefighter and paramedic. The nonprofit he helps run, Revital, is part of a nascent movement to normalize first responder mental health and create safe space for people to heal.

Can Boulder really get to 100% renewable electricity by 2030? Community advisory panel and utility Xcel Energy may have differing ideas about the path forwardThe panel formed to help the city navigate its partnership with Xcel after voters rejected municipalization in 2020. One potential point of contention is the use of Renewable Energy Credits to meet Boulder’s goals.

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Jezy J. Gray

I’m the managing editor of the Boulder Reporting Lab. In addition to years of writing on the culture, politics and history of my home state of Oklahoma, I was the final editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Voice, a local bi-weekly newspaper where I led a small but mighty team of journalists to regional and national honors in feature writing, diversity reporting, LGBTQ+ coverage and more. I look forward to listening to and learning from the Boulder community as we work together on telling the stories that matter here.