By Spencer Wilson

MINTURN, Colo. (CBS4) – The last update to the water system was in 1988 and went from wooden pipes in the ground to a steel tank system. Mayor Earle Bidez says this is just as significant of an upgrade in the works.

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The town plans to purchase a $2.25 million concrete water tank that holds 600,000 gallons with the help of a federal grant for $1 million, thanks in part to Sen. Michael Bennet who went to bat for them in Washington D.C.

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“It’s finally nice to see the federal government actually caring about places that feel to a lot of people like they’ve been left behind over the years,” Bennet said Wednesday morning, touring the planned location for the new tank.

The benefits of revamping the system are twofold; it will help increase the amount of water pressure which will allow the city to build out its fire hydrant system allowing for easier access while fighting wildfires or home fires, and it helps regulate the price of water in the small mountain town to help keep workforce housing more affordable than it would be otherwise.

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“Affordable housing is almost impossible these days and in the upper valley of the Eagle County, but with the school district project it makes it possible for these 120 to 250 units that are coming in here because water and land are the two main things with affordability,” explained Bidez.

Fire Chief Karl Bauer with the Eagle River Fire Protection District is excited by the prospect, too.

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“We’re seeing that fires are burning hotter, faster. And the greatest change in that regard is occurring in areas that we never saw above 8,000 feet,” Bauer said.

The project is expected to take a few years to complete.

Spencer Wilson