Torrington Livestock Markets meets with city to discuss runoff
Torrington – After 17 years of disagreement between Torrington Livestock Markets (TLM) and the City of Torrington (COT) on how to solve storm water runoff management problems, the parties met on Sept. 29 for a COT council work session.
“We didn’t have a resolution when we all left, but everybody had a lot more information than they had before,” says Torrington Livestock Markets co-owner Shawn Madden.
Ranking first in Wyoming and in the top 10 in the country for livestock market size, TLM contributes significantly to revenue for the City of Torrington.
TLM runs approximately 350,000 to 380,000 head of livestock each year, says Madden.
“We typically run about 200,000 head through the market. We run another 100,000 head through Cattle Country Video, and then typically we’ll handle about 50,000 to 75,000 head a year direct private treaty or direct trade,” he says.
TLM also employs several full-time and part-time employees for their sales.
“We have about 50 full-time and part-time employees for the sales,” says Madden.
“It’s been a long, ongoing battle between the sale barn, which is right next to the city limits, and the City of Torrington because all of our storm runoff water goes into the city sanitary sewer where it goes into the regular sewer system,” says Madden.
Since 1999, TLM and the City of Torrington have struggled with four major precipitation events, resulting in flooding that overwhelmed the sewer system. The most recent major storm was in June 2016
“One of the main issues that we’re all concerned with is in June of this year, we had a real big storm – four inches in an hour and a half – that caused flooding all over town,” says Madden. “Obviously that put a lot of water in their system, and one of the sewers that backed up was into the water treatment plant. It backed up and covered those pipes. It didn’t break the water system, but it did cover some of the pipes.”
He adds, “It has been discovered that no backflow device has ever been installed on the sewer pipes to prevent the sewer from backing up into the treatment plant.”
COT employed the services of an independent engineer to study the problem, says Madden.
“They were in our facility all summer long, and we had had a number of conversations,” he says.
The findings from the study were presented to the City Council, but they lacked some of the historical context of the problem.
“The report had a presentation to City Council – not that the information was incorrect, but it was certainly incomplete,” Madden explains.
The work session was organized to provide an opportunity for all parties to present information and discuss the storm water problem.
“For 16 or 17 years, we’ve been at odds over this, and the communication has been nonexistent,” says Madden. “We had the meeting, so we could put in our two cents worth – the historical timeline and actually what was going on,” comments Madden.
No solutions were determined during the work session. However, the session did provide valuable information to all parties.
The independent consultant for COT proposed that TLM build a retention lagoon inside of the stockyards or parking lot, but Madden explains that that solution is “unworkable” for TLM.
“We don’t have enough room,” says Madden.
After a Department of Environmental Quality settlement, an agreement was signed that no runoff water in a storm would go into the street but would go into the sanitary sewer. Now, COT is requesting that TLM drastically reduce the flow of water into the system during a major precipitation event to prevent surcharging the system.
“It’s like, ‘Well, which would you like?’ I can’t possibly do both. Their wish list is certainly on a collision course right now,” says Madden.
Madden notes that the long-term solution may be for TLM to move outside of Torrington.
“Long-term, maybe the solution will be that we don’t have a choice but to go to a different location and move outside of Torrington,” he says.
Moving locations, however, would be very costly for TLM, explains Madden.
“The main problem is that having to buy land and build a new facility would probably cost somewhere in the ballpark of $4 million,” Madden says.
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.