- Copper Compliance Project
- Frequently Asked Questions
I am considering purchasing or developing property within the District. How do I know whether sewer service will be available to my home or business at this time?
Please call the District at (970) 627-3544 to discuss whether sewer service will be available to the property and the requirements to obtain a connection. Because of possible changes in the Rules and Regulations and the different circumstances of each property and service request, it is always best to contact the District with your questions rather than relying on second-hand information from someone not directly associated with the District. The availability of sewer service will depend on the location of District's sewer mains and whether there are any physical impediments to connection. Generally, if the boundary of your property is located within 400 feet of a District sewer main, you will be required (compelled) to connect to the District's system, unless you are granted a temporary variance based on the criteria contained in Rule 3.6 of the District's Rules and Regulations.
If my property is not located within 400 feet of the District's Sewer Main, at this time, what are my options?
The District encourages extension of its sewer main lines and District facilities into areas previously not served by the District. As a property owner, you may elect to pay for the extension of the District's sewer main, in accordance with the requirements of the District, so that it is located closer to your property to facilitate connection. The District has adopted an Extension Reimbursement Program, described in Rule 9.2 of the Rules and Regulations, which provides the potential for reimbursement from neighboring property owners which connect to the extended line within 10 years after its completion. You must apply in writing to the District for participation in the Line Extension Program before constructing the main line extension. Alternatively, you could proceed with development of your property, installing a septic system approved by the Grand County Board of Health. Please be aware that if the District's sewer mains are extended in the future to be within 400 feet of the property boundary, you will be required to decommission the septic system and compelled to connect to the District's sewer system. The District's goal is to provide service to all areas of the District, if feasible, so the sewer lines could be extended into your neighborhood at any time.
If my property is located within 400 feet of the District's Sewer System, am I required to connect to the District's sewer system?
Yes. The District may compel connection to the District's sewer system whenever necessary for the protection of public health, provided that the sewer main is within 400 feet of the boundary of the property. § 32-1-1006(1)(a)(I), C.R.S. The District's measurement is "as the crow files. The Colorado state legislature organized the Three Lakes District to address "serious water quality problems" and "pollution of Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby", which was found to be an issue of concern to all citizens in the state. § 32-10-102, C.R.S. The District studied the pollution problem and found that "it is necessary for the protection of public health for owners of any business, dwelling or other inhabited premises within the District whose nearest property line is within 400 feet of the District's sewer service lines to connect such premises to the District's lines." Resolution of April 26, 1982. Thus, you will be required to connect if your property boundary is within 400 feet of the District's sewer main, unless you obtain a temporary variance from the requirement to connect.
How can I apply for a temporary variance from connection?
Rule 3.6 sets forth the requirements to apply for a temporary variance from a compelling connection order. Any temporary variance request shall be made in writing, shall set forth detailed reasons for the requested variance, shall include a check for the variance fee, and shall include at least one bid from a contractor of owner's choosing estimating the construction costs necessary to complete the connection. The District may obtain a second bid at the owner's cost. The variance fee will be paid as a deposit to cover the District's estimated costs to process the variance, including the cost of obtaining the construction bid, costs of drafting and recording a variance agreement (if the variance is approved), and legal or engineering work related to the District's review of the request. The variance fee will be due regardless of whether the variance is approved. Any remaining funds after all costs of processing the special request have been paid, will be refunded. Variance applications are reviewed and approved, conditionally approved or denied by the Board of Directors of the District on a case-by-case basis and are not approved pro forma. The Board's decision shall be final.
How do I know if the Board is considering actions impacting my property?
The agendas for Board meetings are posted in the Post Office, Town Hall and the District‚Äôs Office located at 1111 County Road 48 (Golf Course Road), Grand Lake, Colorado 80447 in advance of every meeting. They are also posted on the District's website, along with Minutes. You are welcome to attend any public meetings with issues of concern.
What if I have additional questions?
Please contact the District with any additional questions. We are happy to schedule a meeting to discuss how the District's rules and policies apply to your property. Because there may be changes to the rules of the District or unusual facts associated with the property, we strongly encourage you to call the District at (970) 627-3544 with any questions, or email her at email@example.com. The Board has always given sufficient time to make the connection, but a quick response to the District to make arrangements for connection is appreciated. A compelled connection order because of a failed septic system requires immediate action by both the District and the property owner.
I am considering changing the use of my property or remodeling my property. Should I contact the District?
Yes. A change in use or remodeling could change the classification of the property for billing purposes and, in some cases, could result in additional tap fees. It is the owner‚Äôs responsibility to notify the District of any change in use to determine if there is any change in classification by the District.
I am considering purchasing property served by the District. Should I contact the District?
Yes. Please contact the District to discuss whether your proposed use of the property is consistent with the District's classification of type of use for sufficient sfe tap and subsequent billing purposes. A change in use by the prior owner may have changed the type of use without notifying the District.
I am considering purchasing a vacant parcel of land within your District. Should I contact the District?
Yes. District staff will inform you if your property is serviceable with sewer or if a septic tank is an option, the location of the District's nearest sewer main, the footage from the property boundary to the nearest sewer main, if a Lift Station may be required to service the property or if the property will be required to connect to a District owned Lift Station.
What should I do if I receive a compel connection order?
Under state law, you have 20 days from the date that a compel connection order is sent by registered mail to begin the connection. If the connection is not completed in that time, the District may complete the connection and bill you for the costs of doing so, and the District will have a lien on the property for the costs of connection.
When can I be compelled to connect to the District's system?
If the boundary of your property is located within 400 feet (as the crow flies) of an existing (or extended) District sewer service main, you will be compelled to connect to the District's sanitary sewer main unless you receive a temporary variance from connection. The requirements for a temporary variance from connection are laid out in Rule 3.6 of the District's Rules and Regulations, which are available on the District's website.
What fees / costs will I be required to pay if I am compelled to connect?
*Please contact the District to estimate fees and costs, which may include: Tap fee and Connection Inspection Permit Fee (which includes the purchase of a backflow preventer valve if required) The costs of installing a 4" service line and making the connection, including design and construction costs, or The costs of an individual lift station and 2" service line, if needed to reach the sewer main The costs of decommissioning your septic tank (if you have one) Line Extension Fee or costs of extending the District's sewer main (if applicable) Costs to acquire rights-of-way and easements, if needed Upon payment of Tap fees, users fees shall apply.
How does the District decide whether to extend a sewer main to serve additional properties?
The District would like to provide wastewater service to as many properties within its boundaries as is practically possible, and therefore, the District encourages extension of its sewer main lines and District facilities into existing platted areas previously not served by the District‚ Rule 9.2. The decision of whether to extend a particular sewer main will be made by the Board of Directors of the District on a case-by-case basis. Possible extension of a sewer main could be brought to the Board‚ attention by a property owner requesting new service, by a property owner requesting a variance from connection, by a property owner whose septic tank is failing or based on a recommendation by District staff or Directors, or by a developer wishing to extend service to a parcel of land. Factors considered by the Board may include: 1) whether there is a property which is ready to develop that would benefit from the extension instead of paying for a septic tank today and a connection at some future date, 2) whether there are septic tanks which are failing or nearing the estimated life span (typically about 20 years), whose properties would benefit from connection instead of installing a replacement septic tank, 3) the number of properties which would be able to connect to the sewer main extension in the future (both occupied and vacant property), 4) the cost of extension of the sewer main, 5) the relative cost of extension of the sewer main per property which may connect in the future, compared to line extension fees imposed in other areas within the District, and 6) other factors deemed relevant by the Board. Generally, the Board will evaluate the benefits to the community and the District in deciding whether it is an appropriate time to proceed with a particular line extension.
What is the standard for obtaining a temporary variance from the requirement to connect?
In the case of an existing building or structure under a Compelling Connection order, the applicant shall have the burden of proving that it is not practical to require the connection and that the public health or environment will not be adversely affected if the variance is granted. The applicant may present information to the Board at a public meeting. For vacant land, the applicant shall have the burden of proving that topography will not allow the connection without extreme hardship, or that the property owner cannot obtain an easement across private land, required to reach a sewer main of the District, or that there is another physical impediment to connection.
How long will a temporary variance last?
Under current Rules, a temporary variance will expire upon any of the following events: Owner (or related parties) obtains a building permit to expand or enlarge the square footage of the building, or to build additional human-occupied buildings on the property, or The septic tank and leach field system on the property fails for any reason including, but not limited to, owner's failure to comply with testing and inspection requirements, or The District determines, in the Board's discretion, that a change in circumstances allows owner to connect to the District's Sewer Main , or Sale of the property, or Three years from the date of approval of the temporary variance, if the septic tank/leach field system improvements have not been made prior to said date, otherwise, four (4) years from the date of approval. Increments of four year extensions can be sought by the owners.
- Sewer Back Up
We hope you never experience a sewer backup into your home but the District wants you to know that it can and does occur. Sewer backups can occur when a sewer line freezes – which are most common in sewer service lines installed at depths of less than five feet. During the winter months and even during the spring thaw, the frost is driven down into the ground and freezing of pipes can occur at deeper depths as well. A couple of problems that may be indicators that your service line is frozen or plugged, is if there is a slow drain, or one drain that is not draining properly, but others are.
Bleeder lines are also another cause of freeze-ups in your sewer service line. A drip can cause build-up of ice in the service line.
Another area that causes freeze-ups is a slow drip of condensation into the sewer service line, from certain types of furnaces. You should have a drip pan in which the condensation water collects and when the pan fills to a certain level, it will activate a pump, which will pump it into the sewer service line.
There are some houses in the District that are interconnected. In other words, two homes share a portion of a 4” service line. The District requires that each dwelling be connected separately to the sewer main but in the massive connections done in the early 1980’s, there were some interconnections made. In this setup, the shared sewer service line may be frozen, or blocked, and sewage could then backup into the other home. This can create a lot of damage especially because a lot of homes are not occupied for entire winter months, only to arrive in the spring and find their home flooded with sewage.
Backups can also occur when the District’s sewer main freezes, or a lift station malfunctions, or a manhole becomes clogged. A continuous backup of sewage into the home would indicate a problem within a sewer main. We are fortunate to have had very few backups over the years, and in each instance, only one house was affected. It is usually the house lowest in elevation near the problem.
We suggest that you speak to a plumber about preventive measures you can take to protect your home. There are several different types of back-flow preventers that can be installed on your sewer pipe to help prevent a sewage back-up into your home. Find out how and where your sewer service line is installed and whether it includes a lift station for service to the main. Proper maintenance of the lift station is important. Speak with your plumber about methods that will help him to thaw out your service line should it freeze up; for example, sufficient cleanouts.
Last but not least, if your home is not occupied full time during the winter months, either properly winterize the home or maintain a proper temperature so as to prevent freezing.
This message is not to alarm you but only to let you know that sewer backups can and do happen and to make you aware of what to look for and measures you should take to prevent such occurrences from happening in your home.
See the brochures below for more information on sewer backups and how to prevent them.
What to do if you experience a sewer backup
Follow these simple steps to contain the damage and start recovering.
- Carefully try to close as many drains as you can, using extra care with ceramic plumbing fixtures
- Don't run water down any drains or toilets in your home until the clogs are cleared
- Check if neighbors are affected. This could indicate a problem in the main line
- Call a plumber to assist with clearing the issue and closing your drains
- Call your utility to report the issue. They will check the main line
- Call your homeowners' insurance company to determine what coverage may be available
- Call a contractor to clean and restore your home to a livable condition. Your insurance company should be able to recommend one