The Jefferson County Sanitarian has recommended that the area lying within the current Clancy Water and Sewer District be placed under a special management area for septic systems in an attempt to improve water quality due to elevated levels of nitrates in some private wells.
A community water system is a priority, but regardless of whether there’s a lack of progress on that project or not, septic systems are the likely cause of the elevated nitrates, said Sanitarian Megan Bullock, who made the recommendation for a special management area at the March 2 Health Board meeting.
The Clancy Water and Sewer District Board is currently reviewing surveys sent to district property owners about whether or not they support a community water system. The system would also be designed to alleviate elevated levels of uranium in the water. The project stalled last year due to lack of support for a test well location.
Being placed under a special management area puts restrictions and requirements on property owners when it comes to developing property and maintaining existing septic systems.
The special management area is currently a proposal and will be considered for adoption by the Health Board in May. The meeting will be held in Clancy at a soon to be announced date, time and location to give the public a chance to comment. A comment period will also be advertised in The Boulder Monitor.
Elevated levels of nitrates are considered a public health and environmental concern and are the result of the concentration of homes and businesses using septic systems in the Clancy area, as well as the area’s geology and groundwater movement, according to a report submitted to the Health Board from Bullock.
Nitrates in drinking water can cause blue baby syndrome, which can be fatal, as well as cause rampant algae and aquatic plant growth in the Prickly Pear and Clancy creeks, according to the report.
To prevent the problem from worsening, Bullock is calling for a special management area for property located within sections 4,9 and 16 of Township 8 North, Range 3 west — the area within the current water and sewer district boundary.
With this designation comes restrictions, including no new septic systems, or increased use of existing systems unless it can be shown not to cause or contribute to a violation of state and federal water quality standards.
Septic permit applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, to include nitrate sample results. If there has been no unapproved increased use, replacement systems will be allowed, according to the report.
Being in a special management area also means that property owners must participate in a septic system maintenance program, which includes providing results from an inspection and pump-out by a licensed hauler; and the inspections must be performed at intervals no more than four years, according to the report.
Those systems showing deficiencies must be repaired or replaced within 30 days according to the county’s wastewater regulations. This may require a permit, and failure to comply with the county’s regulations could result in a cease and desist order or be charged with a misdemeanor, according to the regulations.
Once approved by the Health Board, the special management area will be incorporated in the county’s wastewater regulations.
Bullock said the community has also looked at a community wastewater treatment system, but because of the cost, that project failed to gain community support.
“Requiring compliance with federal and state water quality standards is something that must be done to prevent further degradation. One thing to point out is that elevated uranium is not caused from septic systems, so adopting regulations to protect the environment will not address that contaminant. There isn’t an easy solution that fixes the entire problem. A community water supply is an attempt to protect the health and safety of the community and the proposed regulations are an effort to protect the health of the environment,” said Bullock in an email to The Monitor.