By PETER BAUMANN / • Thursday, October 27, 2011
The Laramie City Council and Albany County Commissioners jointly directed city and county staff to investigate implementation of a battery of aquifer protection measures along Telephone Canyon during a joint work session Tuesday night.to mitigate the potential for a contamination disaster due to a traffic accident along Interstate 80, city and county officials directed staff to look into funding for $669,100 for a well monitoring program; $230,500 for hazardous spill basins, rock checks and a spill response shelter; and $2.85 million for a shotcrete lined channel and detention pond.Shotcrete is a type of concrete that is applied to a surface using a high velocity pressure hose.In total, the measures could cost nearly $4 million, but right now there is only about $750,000 available. Albany County, the city of Laramie and the Wyoming Department of Transportation would each be responsible for a portion of that $750,000.None of the three measures were voted on. Instead, both commissioners and councilors requested staff to merely discuss funding available.County commissioner Tim Sullivan said staff should move forward with the goal of beginning construction on possible safety and protection measures in the summer of 2012.Mayor Scott Mullner said that while both staffs were directed to investigate the possibility of all three measures, “protection and safety measures” would take priority.“Prevention and protection are the real goals in Telephone Canyon,” he said. “We’ll look at monitoring wells in conjunction.”the most expensive protection measure would be construction of a shotcrete-lined channel and detention pond, Trihydro Project Engineer Tammy Reed said.such measures would mitigate potential contamination in cases such as a semi spilling material hazardous to clean drinking water, such as petroleum, and contaminating the Casper Aquifer along I-80.“if you had a spill, a worst-case scenario during a 50-year rain event (a historic rainstorm), contaminants could become highly mobile,” Reed said.That does not mean the city and county, and possibly WYDOT, would not look for funding for the well monitoring program, Community Development Director Randy Hunt said.Instead, staff from each agency would look to target well monitoring through other grants, which can be project-specific, he said.Monitoring wells would allow Laramie and Albany County to quantify how much, if any, contamination from I-80 was seeping into the aquifer.Wells were also cited as a priority by the joint city/county Environmental Advisory Committee Chair John Evans.“the catastrophic situation we talked about in Telephone Canyon … that needs to be addressed,” he said.“But at this point, that’s the only point of definite action we think we should take.”other major aquifer protection steps should wait until both the city and the county have more data to work from, showing where contaminants such as nitrates are originating from, he said.this makes the implementation of monitoring wells key, Evans added.“It’s something that bares further information, knowledge and a lot of thought about ‘is this happening,’” he said.Hunt said city, county and WYDOT staff would work together in conjunction to secure grants and other possible funding streams such as the State Loan and Investment Board for the projects.