Bayfield and the La Plata-Archuleta Water District OK expansion of treatment plant

August 5, 2012


From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

The town of Bayfield and the La Plata-Archuleta Water District signed an agreement Tuesday to expand the town’s water-treatment plant. Under the agreement, the district will pay for the work, a more economical solution than building its own treatment plant. The district estimates the cost of plant expansion at $5 million. Capacity would be increased from 1.5 million gallons a day to 2.5 mgd. The plant currently treats 900,000 gallons a day.

Water already is available to the district through a contract with the Pine River Irrigation District.

No one from the public commented on the plan at the town council meeting Tuesday, said Steve Harris, the district’s engineer. “We’ve been working on this for eight or nine months,” Town Manager Chris La May said. “We think that by working together we can provide economical water service for users in Bayfield and the water district.”

A pipeline that will follow Bayfield Parkway and then County Road 509 southward is the first step, Harris said. “That is the closest point where there are residents who want water,” Harris said.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Buena Vista: Trustees are looking into fluoride dosing

August 4, 2012


From The Chaffee County Times (Casey Kelly):

The Town of Buena Vista board of trustees heard the second of two presentations on the possible benefits and risks of adding fluoride to the town’s municipal water system during a regular meeting July 24.

The first presentation was from Julie Drake of the Chaffee County Oral Health Program, who spoke to the board June 26 about the dental health benefits of adding fluoride to the municipal water system. Local doctors Eric Gibb, Thomas White and Amy Varble, as well as local dentist Ryan Mueller, all cited the benefits of fluoridating municipal water systems.

More water treatment coverage here and here.

Northern Colorado Water Utility Science Program Launches

July 10, 2012


Say hello to The website is hoping to match educators, water utilities and students looking for a career in water and wastewater distribution and treatment. From the Northern Colorado Project page:

The NoCo WUSP will offer a customized learning approach for each student based on their interests and abilities. Through classroom courses and field training in Fall/Winter of 2012, students will learn important fundamentals of water treatment, wastewater treatment, water distribution and wastewater collection. By March 1, 2013 students will be asked to select the area in which they would like to become certified. Students will apply to take the applicable State of Colorado certification exam. Based on the preferred area of interest, a customized paid internship program will be developed for each student. During the internship program, the student will work with a utility mentor to gain in-depth knowledge of job requirements and duties (for the area of their choice) and study for the certification exam. Finally, the students will be eligible to apply for an On-the-Job Training/Summer Jobs Program for 2013.

There is no cost to participate in the program as a student. However, there is an application and qualification process because space is limited.

More education coverage here.

Reclamation Releases Rural Water Program Assessment Report, Seeks Comments on Proposed Funding Criteria

July 9, 2012


Here’s the release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Dan DuBray):

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking comments on its Rural Water Assessment Report that reviews the status of potable water projects for rural areas, provides Reclamation’s plan for completing congressionally authorized projects, and includes proposed construction funding prioritization criteria for projects in the Rural Water program.
“Rural communities, including farms and ranches, are the backbone of America. Water supply infrastructure is critical and Reclamation has developed a comprehensive strategy for effectively using available resources towards the construction of rural water projects authorized for its involvement,” Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said. “Given the budgetary uncertainties, and rising construction costs, the strategy focuses on maximizing the impact of its limited available funding by establishing clear programmatic goals and a set of transparent prioritization criteria. This approach is intended to continue to make meaningful progress in the construction of rural water projects and we look forward to receiving comments on our proposed strategy and criteria.”

The Rural Water Assessment Report also describes federal programs supporting the development and management of water supplies in rural communities in the 17 western states and describes Reclamation’s plans to coordinate the Rural Water Supply Program with similar programs managed by other agencies.

The proposed strategy for funding rural water construction projects describes the prioritization criteria intended to be used in a two-step process for requesting rural water construction appropriations. Reclamation is proposing to evaluate and rank projects using the criteria, then allocate requested funds to reflect project priorities and the ability of sponsors to complete phases that will deliver water and other project benefits.

The comment period for the Report is 60 days. Comments are now due by 5 p.m., (MDT), Sept. 10, 2012.

Please visit to read the Rural Water Program Assessment Report or learn more about the Rural Water Program.

More Reclamation coverage here.

Rifle: Council approves loan agreement with the Colorado Water Resources and Power Authority for new treatment plant

July 5, 2012


From the Rifle Citizen Telegram (Mike McKibbin):

Councilwoman Jennifer Sanborn, one of two council members to vote in the minority when the issue has arisen, criticized Mayor Jay Miller for what she felt was a “gross exaggeration” about a possible plant failure leaving the city without water for perhaps months.

“I think it’s wrong for an elected official to try to instill fear in people when it’s not warranted,” Sanborn said. “I just don’t think it’s morally right.”

Miller had earlier said he did not want to see the city step back and consider other plant alternatives, as Sanborn suggested.

“We’ve been diddling around with this for the last five years and I feel if we push this back and back, we’re going to have businesses leave town, then we will have a catastrophic failure of the city,” Miller said. “I’m not willing to take that chance.”

Miller added that if a core part of the current plant on Graham Mesa fails, it would take months to have a replacement part manufactured. The plant was designed to use a treatment process that is outdated and replacement parts are no longer manufactured on a regular basis…

The motion passed 4-2, with Sanborn and Councilman Randy Winkler opposed, as they have in several previous votes on the issue. Councilman Keith Lambert was absent from the meeting. City Attorney Jim Neu later noted council’s action meant city staff will move forward to close on the loan, but pointed out the city does not have to spend the entire $25.5 million on a new plant.

City Manager John Hier said he will schedule a work session with city council in the near future, to review various funding options for the new plant in an attempt to lessen the burden on rate payers. In his closing comments at the end of the meeting, Miller said his earlier statements were not intended to instill fear in residents, but felt the issue had to be discussed among councilmembers. He also asked the Citizen Telegram to not portray his comments in that light.

More Rifle coverage here and here.

Colorado School of Mines study cites potential problems faced by water treatment operations after wildfire in a watershed

June 28, 2012


Here’s the release from the Colorado School of Mines (David Tauchen/Karen Gilbert):

As numerous wildfires burn across Colorado, a new study conducted by Mines Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate students last semester details how these fires can be detrimental to drinking water quality and suggests what municipalities could do to respond to this threat.

“While impacts of wildfires have been studied by scientists from forestry, biology and hydrology, this study is the first that combines these experiences with water treatment engineering and focuses on adverse effects on drinking water quality and appropriate response strategies,”said Professor Jörg Drewes.

Rain events following a wildfire can result in detrimental impacts on surface water quality in impacted areas. Run-off mixes with left over debris and sediment in a “chocolate milk shake-like mix” that can end up in drinking water sources. Increased turbidity (cloudiness), alkalinity and organic matter load can thwart purifying mechanisms inside a downstream water treatment plant. If a water plant is challenged by these conditions, the drinking water quality might be compromised including tap water that might have a smoky taste and perhaps doesn’t meet EPA drinking water standards.

“This project simulated a range of detrimental wildfire run-off conditions utilizing a surface water treatment pilot plant at the Colorado School of Mines in close collaboration with the City of Golden’s drinking water treatment plant,” said Drewes.

The study was conducted for the city of Golden as part of the Colorado School of Mines’ Environmental Engineering Pilot Plant class, a course in which Mines students solve real-world engineering problems. They examined how a fire in the Golden area would adversely affect the water supply in Clear Creek, the source of Golden’s drinking water. Finally, the study suggested action steps the city could take to be better prepared for these events and to protect drinking water quality based on the severity of a fire in the area.

“The aim of this project was to determine the impacts of wildfire on Golden’s drinking water supply, treat the affected water to exceptional quality, then develop preparatory suggestions for the city and an action plan for once a fire occurs,” said Alex Wing, a Mines civil and environmental engineering graduate student.

Read the full report here.

Thanks to (Alan Gathright) for the heads up.

More water treatment coverage here and here.

Palisade has discontinued fluoride dosing of the town’s water supply

May 28, 2012


From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Paul Shockley):

The decision, which Palisade Public Works Director Frank Watt said became effective March 14, also comes amid new national health discussion on proper community fluoridation levels. “My job is to make safe, clean drinking water for the town, and the addition of fluoride does not make the water safer or cleaner,” Watt said.

The health benefits — the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in a 2010 study roughly 74 percent of the U.S. population drinks from fluorinated water systems — can be argued, Watt said. “Let’s say it’s better for your oral health,” Watt said. “There are a lot of other nutritional deficiencies out there for which I’m not adding anything to the water. An informed public can make decisions on their own health.”

Naturally occurring fluoride in Palisade’s water on average is half of recommended levels, Palisade town officials said in a news release. The decision to stop adding fluoride was made by Watt in consultation with the town’s board of trustees, the release said.

More water treatment coverage here.

Red Cliff is back in the water and wastewater business

May 13, 2012


From the Vail Daily:

According to a release from the district, Red Cliff and the district mutually decided in mid-April to end the operations agreement and arranged for the contract to expire May 12. Red Cliff’s former and current Board of Trustees supported the decision.

“In 2007, the district brought industry expertise and financial assistance to improve Red Cliff’s drinking water facility and treatment processes,” district director of operations Todd Fessenden said. “We helped bring the new wastewater treatment plant to fruition and upgraded other system components. We agree with Red Cliff that now is a good time to transition to a new operator to run the town’s systems.”

The district provided technical expertise and support to Red Cliff while the town successfully secured funding for a new wastewater treatment plant, which was subsequently built and put into operation in October 2010. Some of the funding Red Cliff secured required upgrades to the town water distribution system, including installation of water meters at every residence and business in town. District staff completed that project between 2007 and 2009 and also coordinated a rehabilitation of Red Cliff’s drinking water facility in 2008.

More Eagle River watershed coverage here and here.

Project spearheaded by Colorado State University aims to collect water quality data for the Cache la Poudre River

May 13, 2012


From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

a first-of-its-kind Colorado State University project will try to gain a better understanding of the Poudre River and how climate change and industrial, agricultural, energy and urban development within its watershed affect its waters.

The Poudre begins in pristine wilderness, but flows through a variety of developed landscapes on its 126-mile run to the South Platte River. Scientists want to find out exactly how those uses of land above the river’s banks affect its water quality and flow.

When it’s complete, the project, called the Water Innovation Network, will place 60 water quality and water flow monitoring stations along the river from its headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park to the Poudre’s confluence with the South Platte River east of Greeley. The stations will send real-time data to CSU, where scientists can measure the water flow, pollutants and other information as rain storms and development near the river’s banks affect its waters.

It will take researchers about five years to put most of the stations in place, and up to eight stations are expected to be installed by the end of the year, said project lead Mazdak Arabi, CSU assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“We want to know precisely what the condition of our water is because we drink that water, we use it in industrial processes, we use it to irrigate our crops,” said John Stokes, Fort Collins Natural Areas and Poudre River Sustainability Director. “The more we know about the qualities of that water, the better-equipped we’re going to be to steward that water, to take care of it, to improve the quality of that water and to use it wisely.”

More Cache la Poudre River coverage here and here.

‘Whenever there is a rate increase, our engineers tell us you can expect a 3 to 5 percent drop in demand’ — John Hier (Rifle City Manager)

May 10, 2012


From the Rifle Citizen Telegram (Nelson Harvey):

The project, which has been under discussion for more than six years, is motivated by the fact that the city’s Graham Mesa Water Treatment Plant is 32 years old and near the end of its useful life. The plant, city officials argue, can’t support Rifle’s growing population, or meet potential new federal water quality standards. Yet in opposing the project, [John Steele] has claimed the rate increases required to fund it would lead to a drastic drop in water demand, depriving the city of the revenue it needs to finance its loan.

Under the rate structure approved by City Council to fund the plant, water rates would rise by about 64 percent for those using up to 2,000 gallons a month, and roughly 99 percent for those using up to 4,000 gallons. Rate increases would be higher if voters do not approve a half cent sales tax increase to help fund the project. “No one has told me whether they can cover the loan with a 20 percent drop in water consumption,” said Steele, which he said could result from the rate hikes…

But City Manager John Hier, who helped design the new rate structure, said there is no way to tell how much demand would drop in response to higher water rates. His plan, he said, accounted for the fact that higher prices would prompt some consumers to use less water. “Whenever there is a rate increase, our engineers tell us you can expect a 3 to 5 percent drop in demand,” he said. “Of course, that depends on how large the increase is, but we were conservative in estimating the rates that would generate enough money to fund the new plant.” Hier said he didn’t know how much consumption would have to drop before the city would be unable to repay its loan.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Cañon City high-schoolers toured the water treatment plant recently

April 29, 2012


From the Cañon City Daily Record (Carie Canteburry):

Students in Dave Laughlin’s biology class at Cañon City High School got an up-close look at the process from coagulation to disinfection during a tour of the plant Wednesday.

“I take my students here because their final in the spring semester is a project on the quality of our water,” he said. “We are intimately tied to its health and the ecosystems that surround us. We come up here to see what the people do for us on a daily basis that we take for granted.”

The plant is a 7-day a week, 24-hour operation that runs throughout the year, and it is required to meet the most stringent and updated state and federal water quality regulations as identified under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Plant operator Travis Payne said the time it takes for the water to make it from the Arkansas River to a home can be as little as two days.

The site was developed in 1908 and served as a slow sand filtration system for several years. Today, the plant has a 22-million gallon per day capacity. The average use is about 5.5 million gallons per day. During summer months, when more people water their lawns and gardens, fill swimming pools, wash cars and run swamp coolers, the plant supplies close to 12 million gallons of water each day.

More coverage from Tracy Harmon writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“As water resources are getting smaller and smaller, we have a very small amount of water to use every day for our needs,” Bob Hartzman, plant manager told the students. He talked to students about the “fascinating chemistry” of the water treatment process and how jobs in the field can be high paying — about $25 an hour. “We have the capacity to treat 22 million gallons of water a day, but the city uses 5.5 million gallons a day on average. So we can probably meet demand for the next 10 to 15 years,” Hartzman said.

The water treatment plant featured two football-field sized slow sand filters when it opened in 1908. Today it is a surface water treatment plant. Plant operator Travis Payne told the students that once particles settle out of water in the sedimentation tanks it would have been “sent out the door with some chlorine 20 years ago but things have changed.” Nowadays the intense process includes a coal filtering system and lab testing. During spring runoff, the workers have to take water that has a particle reading as high as 2,200 and clean it up to a reading between 0.06 and 0.09 on the turbidity scale.

More water treatment coverage here and here.

The Dillon Valley Water District stops fluoride dosing

April 24, 2012


From the Summit Daily News (Kathryn Corazzelli):

The fluoride was stopped last month because of worn-out equipment — and a capital expenditure to replace it — and limited space, according to district manager Francis Winston. After the district’s board members did some research on the subject, Winston said they couldn’t find anything definitive on the benefits of the mineral, and weighing the equipment cost and space limitations, decided to stop it for the time being.

Winston said the Environmental Protection Agency has a limit of 1.1 milligrams of fluoride per liter, which the district has been told they’re getting ready to lower to .7; the natural fluoride levels in Dillon Valley’s water are .5 to .6.

The Dillon Valley Water District isn’t alone. A few other neighboring districts like East Dillon Water, the Snake River Water District, Copper Mountain Metro and the Town of Frisco don’t add the mineral. There’s one well in Frisco where it naturally occurs, but that source is used infrequently, said water foreman Dave Koop…

The Town of Dillon still adds fluoride to its water. Both Winston and Dillon utilities superintendent Trevor Giles said the mineral isn’t expensive to add each month — it’s about 50 cents per pound, and Dillon adds about 40 pounds per month, Giles said. The cost isn’t much compared to the $25-30 per month it costs to buy fluoride pills for an individual, he said.

More water treatment coverage here.

Wiggins secures a Morgan County special use permit for the new water treatment plant

April 20, 2012


From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

The site on which the plant will be built is zoned agricultural, but such a use for the land is permitted with a special use permit, said Jody Meyer of the planning and zoning department as she recommended approval. This treatment plant is one of the parts of the project which will bring a new water supply to the town of Wiggins. Its wells have been running dry and the water quality has become progressively worse, said Tim Holbrook of Industrial Facilities Engineering, the company overseeing the project…

The water treatment facility, which includes a reverse osmosis system, will be built over the new wells situated on Highway 144 near Highway 34. Other components of the project are a 7.3-mile pipeline which will bring the water from the wells to the existing town water tank. Another water tank will sit at the plant and two 19-acre augmentation ponds have been completed near Goodrich.

More Wiggins coverage here and here.

Aurora: Peter D. Binney water treatment plant receives national award

April 14, 2012


From the Aurora Sentinel:

Aurora’s Peter Binney Water Purification Facility received the Marvin B. Black Excellence in Partnering Award last month for representing exemplary partnership and collaboration in construction projects like the Prairie Waters Project. The national honor was awarded by The Associated General Contractors of America.

More Prairie Waters coverage here and here.

Restoration: ‘When you put a hole in a mountain, it would fill up with water’ — Mike Holmes (EPA)

April 13, 2012


From the Valley Courier (Lauren Krizansky):

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency officials presented the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee, a Creede grassroots mining waste clean-up group, the findings and conclusions of its December 2011 Nelson Tunnel/Commodore Waste Rock Pile Site report.

“We are still not seeing the water quality improve in the Rio Grande,” said EPA Environmental Protection Agency Project Manager Mike Holmes in the Creede Town hall meeting room. “For the old miners, the biggest problem was water. When you put a hole in a mountain, it would fill up with water. That is the problem that we are still dealing with today.”

Water passing through the site enters Willow Creek, flows through flood plains and spills into the Rio Grande. The EPA has concluded in order to lower zinc and cadmium levels in the Rio Grande, the water passing through the site must either undergo treatment or reroute through new hydrology.

“We won’t magically make up water quality standards in the Rio Grande,” said EPA Hydrologist Mike Wireman. “But it is something we should do.”

The site feeds 150 to 250 gallons of water a minute into the Rio Grande and contributes less than 50 percent of the river’s contaminated minerals.

More restoration coverage here.

New oil and gas produced water treatment facility planned near Grand Junction

April 10, 2012


Here’s the release from ALANCO Tecnologies, Inc.:

New Subsidiary Alanco Energy Services, Inc. to Provide – Produced Water Disposal Services to Natural Gas Industry
Alanco Technologies, Inc. announced formation of a new wholly owned Colorado subsidiary, Alanco Energy Services, Inc. (“AES” or “Company”) to treat and dispose of “produced water” generated by natural gas producers in Western Colorado. The new Company has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase (expected to close in the next few days) a 160 acre parcel; acquired an additional long-term leased site (both located near Grand Junction, Colorado); and acquired intellectual property and rights to federal, state and county permits required to develop both sites to provide such services to the local gas industry.

Produced water, usually highly saline, and containing 1-2% entrained hydrocarbon condensate (oil), is produced as a by-product of oil and gas production, and is most often disposed into on-site injection wells, near the production sites. However, on-site capacity limitations frequently require producers to truck excess water to alternative commercial disposal facilities, which can be a major expense, particularly in light of current low gas prices. Recent growth of the U.S. natural gas industry is creating demand for new facilities to dispose of produced water, while increasingly restrictive federal and state environmental requirements are increasing both the cost and timelines for new disposal locations and/or expansion of existing facilities.

AES’s produced water business will entail the receipt of truck delivered produced water from gas producers within an approximate 100 mile radius of AES’s disposal sites for a per barrel fee in the $3 – $4 range; treatment of the received water to recover and sell the approximate 1-2% of entrained oil; and disposal of the treated water into on-site evaporation ponds. AES’s target market is Western Colorado’s Piceance Basin production area, with over 12,000 currently active gas wells. In 2010, Piceance Basin gas producers generated in excess of 35 million barrels of produced water, and contracted for off-site disposal of about 15% of that volume.

AES’s initial investment, for land purchase, lease transfer, permits and intellectual property comprised of an approximate $600,000 cash payment, 40,000 shares of restricted Alanco common stock, a $200,000 non-interest bearing secured note due November, 2012, and potentially significant earn-out payments over an approximate 10 year period, based upon AES profitability. The sellers in the transaction were Colorado-based TC Operating, LLC, and a related entity, Deer Creek Disposal, LLC.

Phase I site development has commenced with completion anticipated in 12 months, and additional capital investment estimated to be approximately $5,000,000. Alanco Management anticipates that currently available cash and equivalents, plus significant early AES cash generation, will be sufficient to finance Phase I project build-outs. Future planned facilities expansion is expected to be entirely financed by AES generated cash flow.

AES has entered into a Management Services contract with TC Operating, LLC (“TCO”) to provide operating management of the AES produced water disposal business, including facility construction project management. The TCO managing partners, Tom Pool and Craig Creel, each have over 30 years of broad experience in the oil and gas industry.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Englewood is installing ultraviolet disinfection at their treatment plant

April 4, 2012


From the Englewood Herald (Tom Munds):

New regulations regarding the removal of microscopic giardia and cryptosporidium organisms from drinking water make it necessary for the city’s Allen Water Filter Plant to install the ultraviolet system as part of its treatment process. “Our filter system keeps us in compliance with current regulations regarding removal of giardia and cryptosporidium,” utility director Stewart Fonda told the City Council at the March 26 study session. “However, we need to install the ultraviolet system now in order to be able to comply with the more stringent regulations that will be in place by 2014.”[...]

He said the plans are to remake a 1950-era building into a two-story structure that will be the location of the ultraviolet process. The ultraviolet system will be on the first floor and the power supplies for the system will occupy the second floor. There will be three ultraviolet “trains” in place. Each “train” consists of line of six or eight 4,000- to 5,000-watt ultraviolet bulbs that are similar in shape to fluorescent lighting. The intensity of the bulbs means the water only requires a few seconds of ultraviolet disinfection. The project is scheduled to begin in September and will take about a year. The cost will be $3.5 million to $4 million.

More water treatment coverage here and here.

Take the time today to learn how you can help alleviate the problem of waterborne disease around the world

March 25, 2012


Last week Your Water Colorado Blog pointed to this article, Water For All from Erin McIntyre writing for Headwaters Magazine. From the article:

To further its mission, Rocky Ford-based Innovative Water Technologies designed the Sunspring, a self-contained, solar-powered, portable water filtration unit. The Sunspring uses membrane technology developed by General Electric that can filter particles as small as .02 microns. “You can drink the water straight out of it and it’s bacteriologically safe,” says Barker.

The 900-pound Sunspring arrives at its destination with all the necessary tools for assembly, and can produce purified water within two or three hours, given fresh water and sunshine. It can continue to filter up to 5,000 gallons per day for ten years and perhaps longer. The unit also has a Category 5 hurricane rating, making it durable for parts of the world which endure frequent natural disasters.

Barker got a first-hand look at the impact a Sunspring can have on a community after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Haiti’s fuel crisis made it difficult for water treatment plants, which needed power generators, to operate. When Barker arrived, the threat of cholera and dysentery loomed. “They were sending down plane loads of anti-diarrheal medicine and they were taking it with dirty water,” says Barker. “It was just a vicious circle there.”

Within hours of the earthquake, General Electric donated 10 Sunsprings. The Pentair Foundation donated two more. And Innovative Water Technologies donated time and travel to teach the local people how to use the technology.

“When we would show up to install a Sunspring, it was like a festival—hundreds of people waiting to see if it worked,” Barker recalls. Barker demonstrated the purified water’s safety, drinking the first cup as the crowd cheered. “We were able to give the Haitian people the same exact technology that we use here in the U.S. for our drinking water. To me that’s an honor.”

More water treatment coverage here.

Aspen: The city is lowering the levels of fluoride dosing to match new federal standards

March 15, 2012


From the Aspen Daily News (Curtis Wackerle):

Effective immediately, the city will adapt the amount of fluoride it adds to the water supply to new federal standards recommending levels be set at 0.7 parts per million. The chemical is added to drinking water because of its ability to stem cavities in children, but is controversial because it is also a toxin with adverse health effects in high enough doses…

The official action by council comes after years of debate on the issue. Removing fluoride from public water supplies has become a cause for some, and officials within the city’s water department have become concerned over the years about adding the substance.

“We have the best water in the world,” said water treatment supervisor Charles Bailey, a 20-year veteran of the water department. “We cringe when we load” the fluoride bags into the water supply, he said, noting the chemical’s industrial Chinese origin. There are no domestically available sources of fluoride additive, he said…

The plan approved instructs the water department to “create a more extensive testing protocol” on fluoride levels, and report back annually to council on fluoride. C.J. Oliver, the city’s director of the environmental health department, wrote in a memo on the issue that the government must rely on “peer-reviewed” studies in deciding which way to go. While too much fluoride has been shown to degrade tooth enamel and lead to more bone fractures, the jury is still out on whether the levels of fluoride in Aspen’s water are truly dangerous, the memo says. Other claims, including concerns that fluoride causes cancer and lowers IQ levels, are unsubstantiated at this time, Oliver wrote.

More water treatment coverage here.

Glenwood Springs: Former oil patch water handler calls for the EPA to classify produced water from oil and gas wells as a ‘toxic substance’

March 10, 2012


From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Colson):

Aaron Milton, 36, has started an online petition to pressure the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reclassify produced water from gas wells as toxic waste. The petition, titled “Classify production and reclaimed frack water toxic,” can be found at

Milton also is involved in making a documentary film about the industry with filmmakers Hamilton Pevec of Carbondale and Austin Lottimer, formerly of Carbondale but now living in Denver. The film, Milton said, will be titled, “The Water Handler.” “It will be my story, and there’s a lot of other whistleblowers that are going to be in there, too,” Milton said.

Milton, who said he’d rather be called a concerned citizen than a whistleblower, told the Post Independent he recently worked for a Garfield County gas exploration company. He declined to name the companies he worked for and with, and said he worked there for less than a year…

Milton questions the safety of a regular industry practice of using injection wells to dispose of produced water that cannot be used again for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. “The problem is, that is not classified as anything but water by the EPA,” Milton noted. “But that is not just water.”

David Ludlam, director of the Western Colorado Oil and Gas Association trade group, responded that the disposal of produced water is done in more than one way, depending on a variety of factors. “If Mr. Milton has concerns about the protocol for handling produced water, our industry is anxious to hear more.” Ludlam wrote in an email to the Post Independent. “I’ll be giving Mr. Milton a call next week to see if he is interested in meeting with our member companies so we can learn from his experiences and collaborate on how to address his grievances.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Cotter plans to route Ralston Creek through a temporary pipeline around the Schwartzwalder Mine

March 6, 2012


From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Nobody wants Cotter Corp.’s re-routing of Ralston Creek to be permanent. Federal biologists say the pine-studded creek corridor through a picturesque canyon is habitat for the endangered Preble’s Jumping Mouse

Cotter work crews on Monday were completing a 21-foot-deep concrete-and-steel structure designed to channel all surface and shallow groundwater through an 18-inch-diameter black plastic pipeline running 4,000 feet around the Schwartzwalder Mine, once the nation’s largest underground uranium mine. As a condition of its 10-year federal permit, Cotter must irrigate the creek corridor to ensure that trees and wildlife survive. “This is a temporary bypass that will allow us to do the permanent fix,” Cotter vice president John Hamrick said. “We really are trying to do the right thing here.”[...]

Cotter also has agreed to use excavators and seven sump pumps to remove uranium from contaminated groundwater near the mine’s 2,000-foot-deep shaft, where uranium levels top 24,000 ppb. The sump pumping and subsequent treatment of contaminated groundwater over the past 18 months has removed about 1 ton of uranium that otherwise could have flowed into metro drinking water. That uranium sits in a guarded facility here until it can be trucked to a radioactive-waste dump…

State mining inspectors say uranium-laced water inside the mine shaft “is finding other ways out of the mine pool” and into groundwater and the creek beyond the mine. “The only way to fix that,” [Loretta Pineda, director of Colorado's Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety] said, “is to draw down the mine pool and treat it.”

Cotter favors a different approach. While Hamrick acknowledged there may be some underground pathways between the mine shaft and Ralston Creek, he and Cotter health physicist Randy Whicker on Monday said pumping toxic water out of the mine makes no sense.
Such a project would require construction of a large plastic-lined waste pond, with the cost likely to exceed $10 million, and perpetual pumping of groundwater that would continue to fill up the mine shaft and turn toxic through contact with exposed minerals.

Better, Cotter contends, would be to keep the super-toxic water inside the mine shaft and treat it in there. Mixing molasses and alcohol into uranium-laced water would cause bacteria already present inside the mine shaft to multiply, Hamrick and Whicker said. These bacteria would bond with uranium particles, separating uranium from water so that it could settle deep underground.

More nuclear coverage here. More Schwartzwalder Mine coverage here.

San Luis: CDPHE lifts boil order

February 29, 2012


Chlorine, hero and villain element, saves the day again with regard to disinfection of the San Luis water system. Here’s a report from Matt Hildner writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. Here’s an excerpt:

The move allows the town’s roughly 630 residents to use their tap water, which will now be chlorinated by the San Luis Water and Sanitation District. Linda Smith, a public information officer for the emergency team handling the outbreak, said no cause was found for the contamination, nor have any illnesses related to the outbreak been reported. Public officials also left one last chore for residents, asking that anyone with appliances that dispense ice or water to replace their filters prior to using them again…

The water and sanitation district had operated under a state disinfection waiver before the outbreak, distributing untreated groundwater to residents from two wells. It decided last week to abandon the waiver and begin chlorinating the town’s water.

From the Valley Courier:

The municipal water system is currently being flushed, and residents are being instructed to start flushing the water lines in their homes by doing the following:

* Run cold water taps for five minutes.

* If you have a traditional hot water tank:

o Run your hot water until the water becomes cold.

o Turn off the hot water for about an hour, or until the water becomes warm again.

o Run the hot water a second time until it becomes cold.

* If you have an on demand hot water system:

o Run your hot water lines for a minimum of 20 minutes.

* Empty all ice trays and flush your refrigerator water lines that serve automatic ice and water dispensers.

More water treatment coverage here and here.

San Luis: Chlorine flushing of the water system is complete, CDPHE is waiting on test results to lift the boil order

February 28, 2012


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

Linda Smith, a public information officer for the Alamosa County Emergency Operations Center, said if the tests came back negative it would then be up to officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on whether to lift a boiled water advisory…

Crews worked through the weekend flushing chlorinated water through the town’s pipes and Smith said monitoring revealed the chlorination had run at proper levels. “All of that is looking good so far,” she said…

Should the advisory be lifted this week, Smith did not know if the San Luis Water and Sanitation District would immediately begin chlorinating the town’s water. The district decided Friday to abandon a disinfection waiver that had allowed it to distribute untreated groundwater from two wells. Tommy Rodriguez, the district’s water operator, said earlier the district had the equipment it needed to move forward with chlorination.

More water treatment coverage here.

Sterling: New water treatment plant startup is one year out

February 27, 2012


From the Sterling Journal Advocate (Judy Debus):

In September 2008, an enforcement order was issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The order identified specific tasks the city would have to perform within a specified compliance schedule and identified civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance. Sterling is the largest system of 32 communities across the state to receive the high uranium and TTHM’s rating. After looking at various technology for primary (the uranium, TTHM’s and nitrate) and secondary standards (total dissolved solids, sulfate, manganese and hardness ) treatment, a reverse osmosis (RO) with blend stream filtration was the selected method to mitigate the problems. Demis noted that the selection removes those primary and secondary contaminants, is the lowest overall water cost impact to the average Sterling citizen and provides the best overall water quality.

To dispose of the concentrates that are filtered out, a deep well injection system was selected. The well injection is approximately 7,000 feet deep, is permitted through EPA Region 8 and is the least costly alternative, Demis said…

Noticeable changes will be in taste (less salty), less gastro-intestinal discomfort for visitors, less metallic taste, and a reduction in hardness, lessening the need for in-home softening.

Hatch Mott MacDonald Company is the architect/engineer of the project and contractor is Hydro Construction Company.

More water treatment coverage here.

San Luis: Disinfection of the town’s water supply system may be complete today, don’t drink the water (unless you boil it)

February 24, 2012


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

Tyson Ingels, lead drinking water engineer with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said crews planned to fill the system’s 300,000-gallon storage tank with chlorinated water then run it through the distribution pipes that serve 414 taps. Routine sampling of the town’s water supply came back positive for E. coli Wednesday, prompting a boiled water advisory for all of the town’s residents.

As of Thursday evening, there had been no reported illnesses from the contamination, according to the Costilla County Public Health Department…

Still to be determined, is whether the water and sanitation district will have to chlorinate its water after this week. Ron Falco, manager of the state health department’s drinking water program, said the positive test didn’t automatically mean the district would lose its disinfection waiver. But he said the district’s waiver and the contamination would be up for a thorough review once the system is up and operating again. The sanitation district, like six other distribution systems in the valley, delivers untreated groundwater to its customers.

More water treatment coverage here.

Rifle: City Council approves a shiny new $25 million water treatment plant

February 16, 2012


From the Rifle Citizen Telegram (John Gardner):

The Rifle City Council has agreed to move forward with construction of a new $25 million water treatment facility to be built along Highway 6 near the city’s raw water intake. The action came in a 5-2 vote in a special council meeting held Feb. 6.

Although the city government expects to finance the project with a low-interest loan from the state, the new plant will cause rates for city water customers to double. However, City Council is also considering asking voters to approve a 0.5 percent sales tax increase to help pay off the debt, which would lessen the burden on customers…

Dick Deussen, city utilities director, said the new plant will use advanced water treatment technologies, including a low-pressure membrane, granular activated carbon and reverse osmosis, and is expected to produce good-tasting water…

If all goes smoothly with the advance work, he said construction could begin this fall, and the plant could be complete by the end of 2014.

More water treatment coverage here.

Piceance Basin: Bopco LP hopes to build a water treatment plant for produced water

February 14, 2012


From the Oil and Gas Journal:

The US Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comments on a proposed water treatment plant west of Meeker, Colo., to treat produced water from oil and gas activity in the Piceance Basin and discharge it into Yellow Creek. BLM will accept comments through Mar. 6 for an environmental assessment it is preparing for Bopco LP’s proposed project, the agency’s Meeker field office said on Feb. 6. It said that the proposed facility would treat up to 24,000 b/d of produced water from the Fort Worth, Tex., independent producer’s Yellow Creek natural gas field and discharge up to 18,000 b/d into Yellow Creek.

Bopco already has acquired a discharge permit from the state government but will need to reach a separate agreement with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Service to construct power lines across state land before the project is approved, BLM said.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Patent issued to Anticline Disposal LLC for the treatment of produced water from oil and gas exploration and production

February 3, 2012


From Water World:

According to the abstract released by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: “Systems and methods have been developed for reclaiming water contaminated with the expected range of contaminants typically associated with produced water, including water contaminated with slick water, methanol and boron. The system includes anaerobically digesting the contaminated water, followed by aerating the water to enhance biological digestion. After aeration, the water is separated using a flotation operation that effectively removes the spent friction reducing agents and allows the treated water to be reclaimed and reused as fracturing water, even though it retains levels of contaminants, including boron and methanol, that would prevent its discharge to the environment under existing standards. The treated water may further be treated by removing the methanol via biological digestion in a bioreactor, separating a majority of the contaminants from the water by reverse osmosis and removing the boron that passes through the reverse osmosis system with a boron-removing ion exchange resin.”

Here’s the link to the Anticline Disposal LLC website.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Brighton: City council raises utility rates, adds storm drainage fee

January 3, 2012


From the Brighton Standard Blade (Kevin Denke):

Resident’s utility rates will rise for the second time in less than a year as the city continues to try to keep pace with the cost of aging infrastructure. Brighton City Council members approved staff recommended rate increases for water and sewer services Dec. 20. The new rates, which go into effect with utility bills issued after Jan. 1, include an increase to both fixed rates and user rates for water and sewer as well as the addition of a storm drainage fee.

More infrastructure coverage here.

CWQCD’s proposed stricter wastewater treatment plant effluent standards for nitrogen and phosphorus will be costly

December 27, 2011


From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):

Officials with the Colorado Water Quality Control Division say the new rules are needed to prevent even stricter ones from being imposed on the state by the federal government. At the same time, local wastewater experts say the proposed rules, known as Regulations 31 and 85, will do little to nothing to clean the state’s waterways.

The issue centers on the amount of nutrients that end up in the state’s rivers and lakes. Having too many nutrients — nitrogen and phosphorus — causes algae to grow. That, in turn, saps oxygen from the water, creating so-called dead zones, places where nothing can grow and fish can live, said Steve Gunderson, executive director of the water division.

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency isn’t mandating what Colorado is considering, the federal agency ultimately will impose something even more stringent if the state doesn’t act on its own, he said. “The EPA has been pushing for states to do something for quite a few years,” Gunderson said. “It is one of the nation’s biggest water quality challenges. (The nutrients) causes a water body to get choked. It will rob the water body of oxygen, and it will raise the pH, the level of corrosivity, in the water. It can adversely impact aquatic life.”[...]

The division has filed about 600 pages worth of rules and other accompanying documents with the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission that call for lowering phosphorus and nitrogen levels to virtually zero over the next 10 years. The commission is holding a public hearing on the rules in the spring, with an expectation of having them go into effect by June 1…

Local wastewater experts…say there’s no scientific evidence that shows all wastewater treatment plants are releasing too many nutrients, and have asked for more time to research the matter…

The commission is to vote on the proposed rule in March, but the city only has until Jan. 20 to file a prehearing statement if it intends to challenge any part of it…

So far, officials from 32 local entities have signed a letter complaining about the proposed rules, including the Clifton and Orchard Mesa sanitation districts, the Grand Valley Drainage District, the Battlement Mesa Metropolitan District and the towns of Rangely, Cedaredge, De Beque and Nucla. In the letter that is to be sent to Gov. John Hickenlooper by the end of the week, the officials say the regulations will cost all of them about $2 billion to be in compliance, and ask that he delay it until more scientific research can be done…

Meanwhile, state Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, said he plans to introduce a bill when the Legislature reconvenes next month calling for a five-year moratorium on the rule, to give local communities more time to study its impact…

Gunderson said all this may be much a-do about nothing. He says the division already has limited the scope of the proposed regulation only to larger plants, and is willing to limit it even further to include specific areas of the state.

More wastewater coverage here.

Mark Pifher (Aurora water): ‘We don’t plan to buy or lease any more water in Arkansas basin in the near future’

December 8, 2011


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Aurora’s water rights include nearly all of the Rocky Ford Ditch in Otero County, about one-third of the Colorado Canal in Crowley County and water from 1,750 acres of ranches in Lake County. Those rights provide an average yield of 22,800 acre-feet per year — the equivalent of 80 percent of the potable water used by Pueblo each year.

- Aurora also uses the Homestake Project, Twin Lakes, Busk-Ivanhoe diversion and the Columbine Ditch to bring water from the Western Slope through the Arkansas River basin and into the South Platte basin. The average yield of those water rights is about 21,500 acre-feet annually.

- The city can reuse its Arkansas and Colorado basin water imports, and has built the $650 million Prairie Waters Project to directly recapture flows, rather than exchange them.

- Aurora’s South Platte water rights include wells, ranches, ditches and direct flow from the South Platte. They total about 46,000 acre-feet annually.

- Aurora has an agreement to trade 5,000 acre-feet of water a year with Pueblo West from Lake Pueblo to Twin Lakes beginning next year. It will replace a similar agreement with the Pueblo Board of Water Works that expires this year.

- The Pueblo water board sells Aurora 5,000 acre-feet of water each year.

- Aurora has a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation to store 10,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Pueblo and to move the same amount to Twin Lakes by paper trade.

- The water is moved from Twin Lakes to Spinney Mountain Reservoir through the Homestake pipeline system…

“We don’t have any current plans beyond what we’re already doing,” said Mark Pifher, director of Aurora water. “We don’t plan to buy or lease any more water in Arkansas basin in the near future.”

Instead, the city will continue developing Prairie Waters, a reuse project that pumps sewer return flows through a filtration and purification system, only at about 20 percent capacity so far. Aurora calculates that its average yield from its Arkansas River basin water rights is about 22,800 acre-feet annually. That’s roughly one-fourth of its total yield from its entire system, which includes South Platte and Colorado River basin rights. From a practical standpoint, Aurora does not move all of its water out of the Arkansas River basin each year.

More Aurora coverage here and here.

The water in Boulder’s distribution system wins award

November 24, 2011


From the Boulder Daily Camera (Heath Urie):

The city of Boulder’s water treatment facilities at Betasso and Boulder Reservoir have earned the Partnership for Safe Water Director’s Award for their commitment to water quality and consumer safety. Boulder joins the ranks of seven other Colorado water treatment facilities that have received the award for optimizing water treatment facility performance.

More water treatment coverage here.

The Rifle City Council is starting to plan for a new water treatment plant

November 3, 2011


From The Rifle Citizen Telegram (Jenny Lavey):

City of Rifle Director of Utilities Richard Deussen said although the project is years out, it’s clear the current water treatment plant needs to be replaced. “It’s getting to the point where it’s difficult to find parts when it needs to be fixed,” Deussen said.

Rifle City Council is currently holding budget workshops and reviewing how the city could fund a new plant. Development and construction of a brand new water plant could cost up to $30 million and would have to be funded through either an increase in city water rates or a sales tax increase, according to Deussen.

The new plant would be of high quality, utilizing the reverse osmosis process and granular activated carbon (GAC), a specialized filter medium that removes tastes and orders from city water. Deussen said the current water plant uses sand filters, which may contribute to the taste and odor of Rifle’s water — a common complaint among Rifle residents…

Rifle City Manager John Hier said finance matters and an application to the Colorado Water and Power Authority have to be completed before further details can be planned for building a new plant. “Design plans are scheduled to completed in February, and even then we’re a few years out from construction,” Hier said.

More water treatment coverage here.

Silt: The town board is hoping to score $1.8 million in federal dough for improvements to the water treatment plant and water lines

October 29, 2011


From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Colson):

Town Administrator Pamela Woods said the money would come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which offers funding in its Rural Utilities Service and Rural Development programs.

The town Board of Trustees gave its approval for the grant application on Oct. 24.

According to Woods, the improvements include replacement of old water lines along Grand and Orchard avenues. The existing four-inch lines, made of deteriorating concrete and asbestos, are to be replaced by six-inch or eight-inch PVC lines, she said.

In addition, the town hopes to build a redundant pipeline underneath I-70, adjacent to the existing water line that serves customers between the interstate and the river. The extra line is needed, she said, in case the existing line were to fail for some reason.

The town also hopes to do some upgrades to the water treatment plant, “so we don’t have to use as much chemicals to keep down the TTHM,” Woods explained, referring to the contaminant total trihalomethanes.

More infrastructure coverage here and here.

Prairie Waters Project Receives Project Management Institute’s Prestigious 2011 PMI Project of the Year Award

October 25, 2011


Here’s the release from the Project Management Institute via Market Watch:

Aurora, Colorado, USA has been challenged by decades of rapid population growth combined with limited opportunities to expand its water supply in an arid environment. This already significant challenge was exacerbated in 2002 by severe, multi-year drought, requiring the city and its water managers to quickly design and implement a long-term solution in response to future water shortage conditions. The Prairie Waters Project, led by CH2M HILL, marked one of the largest water-related public works projects in Colorado in more than 35 years. Its exemplary innovation and completion, two months ahead of schedule and US$100 million under budget, has made it the 2011 recipient of the Project Management Institute’s prestigious PMI(R) Project of the Year Award.

“An urgent water need pushed the city to take an innovative look at ways to achieve not only meeting the community’s water needs quickly, but to preserve the city’s high standards for water quality,” said Larry Catalano, manager of capital projects for the City of Aurora. “The significant complexities of the project included stringent cost constraints, stakeholder involvement, environmental restrictions, and the pressure to execute a project on an exceptionally fast schedule. The project team consistently went above and beyond the call of duty and delivered ahead of schedule and under budget. We are honored that PMI recognized the hard work, collaboration and dedication of the entire team that worked to create the Prairie Waters Project.”

The Prairie Waters Project succeeded in spite of extreme environmental challenges. With only a nine-month supply of water available for a population of approximately 300,000 at that time, city leaders and CH2M HILL were tasked with identifying a sustainable, long-term water supply to protect against future droughts. After reviewing over 50 possible scenarios, the city identified the Prairie Waters Project as the fastest, most cost-efficient and most sustainable way to deliver more than 10,000 acre feet of new water to the city by the end of 2010.

The success of the project, originally projected to cost $854 million, resulted in a newly constructed pipeline, pump stations and a treatment plant that will ultimately deliver up to 50,000 acre feet, meeting Aurora’s needs through 2030. Eight significant stakeholder agreements, 145 land parcels and 44 permits were acquired for approval and completion of the project, which took six years to complete and spanned nearly 40 miles in length. Through the use of skilled project personnel, the rigorous application of project management standards, processes and techniques, and the use of earned value management (EVM) techniques, the PWP was able to cut $100 million from the budget in the design phase without compromising quality and safety, bringing the construction budget to $754 million. Value engineering techniques enabled the team to fast-track the project two months ahead of schedule and an additional $100 million below this amended budget. The project was delivered in October 2010 at just under $653 million.

“The City of Aurora’s Prairie Waters Project clearly illustrates how project management standards and practices, properly applied, can help deliver a solution that is transformative to a community,” said Mark A. Langley, President and CEO of PMI. “This project demonstrates best practice solutions that show agility and effective stakeholder engagement. PMI commends Aurora Water and the entire project team for these outstanding results.”

Aurora Water was presented with the 2011 PMI Project of the Year Award on Saturday, 22 October 2011 during the PMI Awards Ceremony at the PMI(R) Global Congress 2011–North America in Dallas, Texas.

More Prairie Waters coverage here and here.

Castle Rock: The town council awards contract for new water treatment plant

October 16, 2011


Here’s the release from the Town of Castle Rock:

Town Council recently awarded a construction contract to Moltz Construction, Inc., Salida, Colo., who will begin construction of the Plum Creek Water Purification Facility next month.

Castle Rock Water owns water rights that date back to the 1860s. Part of the Town’s long-term water strategy is to start tapping into more of those rights to enhance the current water supply.

Plum Creek Water Purification Facility will enable the Town to collect and treat that water, which will provide a renewable and sustainable supply for the Town. Renewable water sources include water rights on East and West Plum Creek; reclaimable water discharged to East Plum Creek; lawn irrigation return flows; and future imported surface water.

When this facility begins operation in 2013, the Town will essentially transition from a mostly nonrenewable water supply to 35 to 40 percent renewable water.

The water purification facility will have an initial treatment capacity of four million gallons per day and will be expandable to 12 million gallons per day in the future. The average Castle Rock household uses an average of 400 gallons per day, which means this facility will produce enough water to supply 10,000 homes per day.

The project is being funded through existing certificates of participation. The Water Department budgeted $22.6 million for the entire project, including wells and pipelines.

This facility comprises just one component of the Town’s Legacy Water Projects – the goal of which is to transition the Town to 75 percent renewable water by the time it is built out. All of the Town’s water currently comes from nonrenewable wells.

There are two other major components to Legacy Waters:

•The purchase of water storage space in Rueter-Hess Reservoir, which will open next year near Parker
•A partnership with a long-term water provider to purchase future water resources

Construction of the Plum Creek Water Purification Facility is planned to be complete by March 2013. For more information, go to

Aspen: The city council is weighing three options for fluoride dosing in the water supply

September 29, 2011


From The Aspen Times (Chadwick Bowman):

Currently, the city of Aspen adds fluoride to the natural amount already in the water supply to achieve a level of 1 to 1.1 milligrams of fluoride per each liter of water. The debate was sparked by recent recommendations from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services, federal agencies that want water districts to lower the amount of fluoride to .07 milligrams per liter…

Council members said that they need more time to discuss three possible options the city’s Environmental Health Department outlined. One option is to maintain the status quo; another is to completely stop adding fluoride to the water; the third alternative would be to reduce the amount of fluoride it adds to water to reach the EPA-recommended .07 level.

The council asked environmental health director Lee Cassin if she could return with more information about the issue. Council members asked how difficult and expensive it would be for individuals to filter out the fluoride on their own; how much money the city would save to end the program (the annual cost was an estimated $22,000); and why water plants in Europe have ended fluoridation.

More water treatment coverage here.

Durango: Water system triennial inspection turns up minor repairs

September 25, 2011


From The Durango Herald (Lynda Edwards):

The city was asked to build a hatch on top of one of the water tanks where chemicals that treat the water could be more easily poured into the tank. That will cost a few thousand dollars. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment inspectors also said an overflow pipe had a gap in it and must be repaired.

Every three years, the Department of Public Health and Environment conducts a sanitary inspection of municipal water-treatment facilities. Recenty, the state health department gave Durango its inspection, and Durango Public Works Director Jack Rogers said he was fairly satisfied with the report card.

“In these inspections, they tell you what you are doing wrong, not what you are doing right,” he said. “The inspectors did not find any problems that would endanger public health. They did find what they called ‘major deficiencies.’ We’ll be able to make the necessary repairs with existing funds in our budget,” Rogers said.

More water treatment coverage here.

Aurora water comes out on top (again) in a regional taste test this week at annual conference of the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works Association

September 21, 2011


From The Denver Post:

It was the second time in three years Aurora Water has come away with the top spot. “We employ state-of-the-art treatment technology and have a staff dedicated to providing some of the highest quality water around,” Mark Pifher, director of Aurora Water, said in a statement. “It’s a testament to the hard work of our employees when our water comes out on top in a comparative taste-test.”

More water treatment coverage here and here.

Anticipated retirements to fuel need for approximately 2,775 new operators over the next five years in a four county area including Boulder

September 11, 2011


From the Boulder Daily Camera (Amy Bounds):

The Boulder High class is part of the “Get Into Water” project through the Boulder Valley School District’s Lifelong Learning Program, in conjunction with the Rocky Mountain Section of American Water Works Association and the Colorado Workforce Development Council.

Along with the Boulder High class, two classes are offered this fall through Boulder Valley’s fee-based adult education program — Water Foundations and Wastewater Collection. Scholarships for the adult classes are available through Boulder County Workforce.

The idea, organizers said, is to connect adults with well-paying jobs and fill an industry need. Within the next five years, 25 percent of the water operators in a four-county area that includes Boulder County are expected to retire, opening up about 2,775 jobs.

Boulder High students who take the Water Foundations class this semester and a water distribution class next semester are eligible to take a state certification test. If they pass, they’re qualified for entry-level jobs…

The class covers water source, treatment and distribution, along with water regulations, storm water and water conservation with an emphasis on local water information, history and issues. The class will visit area water sources and treatment plants, along with hearing directly from those who work in Boulder’s water industry.

More water treatment coverage here.

The Parker Water and Sanitation District snags the ‘Outstanding Water Laboratory’ award from AWWA — Rocky Mountain Section

August 13, 2011


From the Parker Chronicle:

In addition to receiving highest marks in a broad spectrum of water-quality tests and analysis processes, the award was also given to the district for its fieldwork performed beyond its customer service area of about 16,000 customers. The district’s lab technicians have been called to assist other districts in Arapahoe, Douglas and Elbert counties with water-quality testing and analysis due to inadequate on-site lab capabilities or under-trained personnel. Water district winners in all categories will be recognized at the Joint Annual Conference of the American Water Works Association on Sept. 18-21 in Loveland.

More Parker coverage here.

USDA and EPA Create New Partnership to Improve Drinking Water Systems and Develop Workforce in Rural Communities

August 9, 2011


Here’s the release from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a national partnership to improve rural drinking water and wastewater systems. Across the country, small water and sewage treatment facilities with limited funding and resources often face challenges due to rising costs and aging equipment and pipes. Today’s agreement will target federal resources and provide training to support communities that need assistance most.

“The agreement we are announcing today represents an exciting partnership between USDA and EPA that will greatly enhance our investments in water systems and also develop a skilled workforce to oversee them,” said USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein. “By working together, our agencies will strengthen their capacity to provide rural residents with safe, clean, well-managed water and wastewater systems for years to come.”

“EPA and USDA have joined forces to leverage our expertise and resources to improve drinking water and wastewater systems in small towns across the country,” said EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, Nancy Stoner. “A critical part of this agreement is to ensure that we have a well trained, professional workforce available to replace workers when they leave or retire.”

Under the agreement, EPA and USDA will work together to promote jobs by targeting specific audiences, providing training for new water careers and coordinating outreach efforts that will bring greater public visibility to the workforce needs of the industry, and develop a new generation of trained water professionals. EPA and USDA will also facilitate the exchange of successful recruitment and training strategies among stakeholders including states and water industries.

In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Secretary Vilsack is working to coordinate USDA programs across the government and encourage public-private partnerships to improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities. Today’s agreement is an example of how government can work together across federal agencies to utilize resources that will help rebuild and revitalize America’s rural communities.

Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken significant steps to promote prosperity and improve the lives of rural Americans. For instance, the Administration has set goals to modernize infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, provide improved water service to 1.8 million rural residents, expand educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and provide affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America’s rural communities are, self-sustaining, and thriving economically.

USDA, through its rural development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural development has an existing portfolio of more than $153 billion in loans and loan guarantees to improve the quality of life through economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers.

For more information about the EPA-USDA agreement visit:

Information about USDA’s Water and Environmental Programs for rural communities:

Information on EPA’s programs and tools for small water systems:

More water treatment coverage here.

Greeley: Annual water and sewer facilities tour August 25

August 2, 2011


From Greeley Water via The Greeley Tribune:

The city of Greeley is offering residents the chance to tour the city’s water and sewer facilities with the city’s Water and Sewer Board. The tour is set for 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 25. Residents interested in attending are asked to reserve seating by Aug. 19 to (970) 350-9812. The purpose of this annual tour is to visit water and sewer facilities to learn about new and developing projects, according to a city news release.

More Greeley coverage here.

Eagle County water providers’ consumer confidence reports available online

July 26, 2011


From the Vail Daily (Lauren Glendenning):

In Eagle County, many municipalities provide their own water supplies to their citizens, and the county’s largest suppliers — the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority — are reporting high marks in their recently released 2010 consumer confidence reports. “Managing the public water system is about protecting public health,” Eagle River Water and Sanitation District Water Division Manager Todd Fessenden said. “It’s important to inform people about their water supply.”[...]

The consumer confidence reports are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and they show lists of the various contaminants found in local water supplies. Each public water supplier is required by law to produce the annual reports — something the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, does not require of the bottled water industry. The contaminants shown in the reports are the contaminants that were detected in that water supply during thousands of water quality tests that are performed over the course of any year. Even the cleanest of water supplies will show some levels of some contaminants. “The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk,” the 2010 Water District report says…

The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority reports are available online at
The town of Eagle’s report is available at, under “news and information.”
The town of Minturn’s report is available at
The town of Gypsum’s report is available at, under “document center.”

More water treatment coverage here.

Otero Junior College to Offer New Water Quality Management Technology Program

July 26, 2011


Here’s the release from Otero Junior College via Water World:

Otero Junior College is pleased to announce that a new certificate program in Water Quality Management Technology will begin on August 22 with the start of Fall Semester. The new program will include two certificates, Water Treatment and Waste Water Treatment, each requiring one semester of study. Upon completion of the certificates, students will be prepared to sit for the Colorado Water and Wastewater Facility Operators Certification Board operator’s certification test at the C and D levels.

Dr. David Cockrell, associate vice president of instruction at Otero Junior College, explained that the new certificate program is currently the only program of its kind in the state offered by a community college outside of the Denver-metro area.

“We’re very happy to be able to offer this program of study that shows some great potential for employment demand over the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, the demand for new employment opportunities in Colorado is projected to increase by 21 percent by 2018. The salary range for 2009 was between $36,000 for entry-level to over $60,000 for experienced operators,” said Cockrell.

Cockrell explained that the program will be offered during a time frame that is convenient for students who may already be working in the field or have other employment.

“During Fall Semester we will be offering WQM 124: Water Certification Review for Class C & D, and WQM 120: Water Quality Equipment Maintenance on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The completion of both classes allows a student to sit for the C and D Water Treatment certification tests. During the Spring Semester students can complete two more classes that will prepare them for the class C and D Waste Water Treatment certification exam. Within two semesters, a student can complete both certificates,” said Cockrell.

Cockrell explained that the new program is open to anyone interested in obtaining a Class C & D operator’s licenses.

“We’re hoping to generate some new interest in this field of study as well as provide the required training needed by people who are already working in local water company systems and city water systems,” he said.

Jack Barker, president of Innovative Water Technologies, Inc., in Rocky Ford, is a member of the advisory committee for the new Water Quality Management Technology program at OJC. Barker was instrumental in helping to develop the program and said he is extremely pleased to see the program getting started at OJC.

“This program will help meet the pressing need statewide for certified operators in water and wastewater. Our company was very happy to be in on the development of this important training venue for current and future water quality professionals,” said Barker.

Joe Kelley, director of La Junta Water and Wastewater Treatment, chairs the OJC Water Quality Management Advisory Committee.

“This is a great program to see come to OJC. The college has worked hard to make sure that all the courses being taught in the program have been approved by the Colorado Water and Wastewater Facilities Operators Certification Board and that they satisfy the minimum experience requirement for eligibility to sit for the class “D” operator’s exam,” said Kelley.

Fall classes will be taught by Scott Duff, director of the Rocky Ford City Water and Waste Water Department.

For more information and registration, contact the OJC Office of Student Services at 719 384-6831, or visit

More water treatment coverage here.

San Luis Valley: Baca Grande residents voice concern over SeaQuest corrosion inhibitor dosing in their water supply

July 24, 2011


From the Center Post Dispatch (Teresa L. Benns):

For decades, Scott Johnson and Steve McDowell ran the BGW&S and there were no problems, Karlstrom points out. But for nearly three years, the water district has been run by SDMS, a for-profit management team and its engineering firm sub-contractor in Denver. Many Baca residents now perceive there has been a significant erosion of local control and influence over their water district and water quality…

“Current dosing of ortho-polyphosphate into the Baca water is about 1.68 ppm. (Mark Bluestein measured 0.42 ppm at my tap in June 23, 2011. However, SeaQuest representatives note that readings of orthophosphate must be multiplied by a factor of 4 because the ratio of orthophosphate to polyphosphate in their blend is about 1:3).

“Ortho-polyphosphate is also used as a blood coagulant for hemophiliacs and trauma victims, in the fish farm industry, and in liquid fertilizer for plants. However, its health effects are unknown and indeed, could prove to be much worse than ingestion of copper and lead, the elements that SeaQuest is supposed to protect against.

“SeaQuest, by contrast, is secret, proprietary blend of orthophosphate and polyphosphate in approximately a 1 to 4 ratio, and is a man-made product. SeaQuest is an ortho-polyphosphate (OPP) that was originally designed to reduce the problem of corrosion inside boilers on Navy vessels. It is marketed as a corrosion inhibitor.

More water treatment coverage here.

The National Science Foundation has allocated $18.5 million to create an engineering research center to help solve urban supply problems

July 22, 2011


Here’s the release from the National Science Foundation (Cecile J. Gonzalez):

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announces an award to Stanford University and its partners to establish a new NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC). The ERC will develop interdisciplinary research and education programs that address the intersection of people, water, and the environment, and that provide the foundation for new industries through innovation. NSF will invest $18.5 million in the Center over the next five years.

The NSF ERC for Re-inventing America’s Urban Water Infrastructure aims to create water systems that will require far fewer resources while continuing to meet the needs of urban users and improving the quality of aquatic ecosystems. With new knowledge and technological advances, the ERC will design new strategies for more sustainable solutions to urban water challenges.

The Center will focus its research on distributed water treatment systems, integrated natural water systems, and tools that incorporate economic, environmental, and social factors into decisions about water. The new possibilities for water/wastewater treatment and distribution will allow communities to increase the efficiency of water systems and usage, while protecting natural water resources.

The NSF ERC will be based at Stanford University, in partnership with the Colorado School of Mines, New Mexico State University, and the University of California, Berkeley. Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, and the University of New South Wales in Australia will contribute additional expertise and international perspectives.

The involvement of 22 industry partners — including multinational corporations, utilities, and start-up firms — will spur innovation and provide university students with first-hand experience in entrepreneurship. The ERC will also collaborate with complementary research centers and organizations specializing in technology transfer to stimulate innovation based on its research.

Since 1985, the ERC program has fostered broad-based research and education collaborations to focus on creating technological breakthroughs for new products and services and on preparing U.S. engineering graduates to successfully participate in the global economy. The centers launched this summer, as part of the third generation of NSF ERCs, place increased emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship, partnerships with small research firms, and international collaboration and cultural exchange.

“The Gen-3 ERCs are designed to speed the process of transitioning knowledge into innovation and to provide young engineers with experience in research and entrepreneurship, strengthening their role as innovation leaders in the global economy,” said Lynn Preston, the leader of the ERC Program. “Because they build on the rich understanding we gained from two previous generations of ERCs, we expect these new centers to make even more significant impacts on the competitiveness of U.S. industry.”

More coverage from (Nelson Garcia):

The National Science Foundation is funding a five-year, $18.5 million grant to create an Engineering Research Center through Stanford, University of California – Berkeley, New Mexico State, and CSM. Each school will collaborate on projects to address the future of urban water issues.

“Our current urban water infrastructure was developed in the 1940s,” [Dr. John McCray, director of Environmental Science Engineering Division at CSM] said. “Our purpose here is to essentially reinvent America’s Urban Water Infrastructure. Or, at least conduct research in education that will help us get there in the future.”

The projects won’t necessarily focus on the quality of water, but rather on the process of producing useable water.

“It’s more about in the long run, are we doing this in a sustainable manner?” McCray said. “Are we doing it in an energy efficient manner? Can we continue to do things now the way we’ve done in the past.”

Dr. Tzahi Cath is overseeing a project on campus to decentralize waste water treatment. Currently, he has a portable filtering unit cleaning 7,000 gallons a day of wastewater produced by student housing. He says the result is water good enough to drink.

“Here you can treat water on site, reuse it on site. You save a lot of energy. You save a lot of infrastructure of pipelines,” Cath said. “This is a system that you can bring on a truck, put it in any small neighborhood, connect to power, connect to the sewer system and it’s a plug and play.”

Here’s the release from the Colorado School of Mines (David Tauchen/Karen Gilbert):

America’s cities face a looming water crisis, driven by climate change, growing population and a crumbling infrastructure. Recognizing the critical importance of this issue, the National Science Foundation has selected a partnership of four U.S. universities to form an Engineering Research Center (ERC) that addresses this challenge by developing new, sustainable ways to manage urban water. The initial grant is $18.5 million spread over five years with additional millions to come in the subsequent five-year period following in-progress reviews.

Engineering Research Centers are interdisciplinary hubs established at U.S. universities where researchers work in close partnership with industry to pursue strategic advances in complex engineered systems and technologies. The Urban Water ERC is led by Stanford University and includes researchers trained in fields including environmental engineering, earth sciences, hydrology, ecology, urban studies, economics and law at Stanford, University of California-Berkeley, Colorado School of Mines, and New Mexico State University.

Concerted effort, grand scale
“Urban water represents a monumental challenge for the United States and it deserves concerted research and thinking on the grandest scale,” said project leader Richard Luthy, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford. “We’re clearing the slate. Nothing is being taken for granted. We’ll be developing new strategies for replacing crumbling infrastructure, new technologies for water management and treatment, new ways to recover energy and water, and more – much of it yet to be determined.”

One example is better integration of natural systems as part of urban water infrastructure to improve water quality and storage while simultaneously enhancing habitats and the urban landscape.

The partnership of these specific universities is as symbolic as it is pragmatic. The Urban Water Center is based in the American West where the effects of shifting water resources will be felt most acutely, but also where much of the leading thinking on water challenges is taking place.

“These four universities form a powerful collaboration,” Luthy added. “Each has its particular strengths, and each is working on problems related to how we use and reuse water, and how we design and manage our urban water resources in the face of some daunting outlooks.”

Here’s how Colorado School of Mines fits into the partnership:

- Mines will provide its expertise in water reclamation and reuse, subsurface modeling and contaminant attenuation. Mines also has unique water reclamation testbeds on campus that will be used in research.

- Mines faculty will serve as the research director and education director for the ERC.
Over the next five years, Mines will receive $5 million with the State providing $400,000 per year through the Colorado Higher Education Competitive Research Authority (CHECRA).

- The CHECRA provided critical matching funds that allowed Mines to participate in this prestigious partnership and brought a large federal grant to the state.

“Our various test platforms in California, Colorado and New Mexico allow us to try new ideas at realistic scale and in close collaboration with industry and practitioner partners,” said Jörg Drewes, a professor at Colorado School of Mines and director of research for the center. “This allows us to demonstrate new approaches and move promising innovations from university labs towards commercial reality.”

“At this level of collaboration we can achieve much more than any one individual campus could alone,” said Professor Nirmala Khandan, a co-investigator on the project and leader of the center’s work at New Mexico State University.

Industry-academia collaboration
To the mix of leading universities, the Urban Water Engineering Research Center will add the support of a number of industrial partners that will extend the reach of the ERC’s programs and provide a critical real-world aspect to the center’s work.

“The Engineering Research Center’s multi-disciplinary approach can transform the way we manage our urban water systems in the 21st century for the betterment of both cities and the environment,” said Mike Kavanaugh, a principal with Geosyntec Consultants whose company provides specialized services in storm-water management, water-quality modeling and geotechnical services to municipal clients in the United States.

“We look forward to having an active role in the ERC’s research to help put innovations into practice,” added Megan Plumlee, a scientist with the Advanced Technologies Group at Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, a company that has completed more than $1 billion in recycled-water planning and design work over the past decade.

Multi-faceted approach
The research of the Urban Water ERC will follow a three-pronged approach that combines fundamental investigations and applied research in engineered systems, natural systems and urban water management.

“Working with partners in industry will transform the center’s groundbreaking research into practical and sustainable solutions,” said Luthy. “Achieving technical innovation and new ways of doing business requires the ERC team to tackle the full range of economic, policy and social factors at play in water resources decision-making and management.”

An additional mission of the Urban Water ERC is to inspire future engineers through extensive education programs at all of the participating institutions. According to Professor Luthy, this will yield a pipeline of well-prepared students of diverse backgrounds who are ready and eager to pursue water-related degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level. The goal, ultimately, is a new cohort of leaders who will transform America’s water infrastructure. This effort also includes important outreach programs aimed at students of all ages, from kindergarteners through adults and with special outreach to under-represented children in Native American, Latino, Pacific Islander and African American communities.

“I, for one, am confident we can meet our water challenges,” said Luthy. “And the establishment of this Engineering Research Center is a great first step to solving the biggest problems.”

Energy policy — oil and gas: Are Colorado fines too low in water pollution instances?

July 13, 2011

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From Real Vail (David O. Williams):

Leslie Robinson, a Rifle resident and member of the Grand Valley Citizen Alliance, says she is concerned the fines are far too low and don’t meaningfully punish oil and gas operators for polluting local waters. Specifically, she is dismayed at COGCC agreements reached on June 23 with Berry Petroleum ($173,000) and Marathon Oil ($143,350) for hydraulic fracturing fluid and other drilling fluid spills into Garden Gulch on the Roan Plateau beginning in 2007. “Marathon paid a fine of only about a dime per gallon for draining over 1 million gallons of chemically contaminated drilling and fracking flow-back waste into local creeks and the Colorado River near Parachute,” said Robinson, a former journalist who first covered the Garden Gulch cases in early 2008. “The COGCC didn’t inflict any pain — except for a couple of days of bad PR. Really, what’s a hundred thousand dollars or two to this behemoth industry? That’s the cost of a Christmas party.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Water treatment: H2O Innovation wins two contracts for membrane filtration systems in Colorado

July 6, 2011

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Here’s the release from H2 Innovation. Here’s an excerpt:

The Company will also deliver a brine minimization system for the East Cherry Creek Valley Water & Sanitation District’s Northern Water Supply Project in Colorado. This system will enhance permeate recovery from the District’s low-pressure reverse-osmosis drinking water production system, presently being assembled by H2O Innovation. The City of Sterling, Colorado, has also selected H2O Innovation to supply a nanofiltration membrane system that will produce softened water.

More water treatment coverage here.

Yuma: No drinking water violations in more than ten years

June 27, 2011

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From the Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

Yuma tests for bacterial infections each month, while other items are tested once per year, and yet others every three years. The schedule stays that way unless a problem arises, then more frequent testing is done as steps are made to rectify the situation. “We’re in really good shape here in regards to our drinking water,” Strait said earlier this week…

Yuma has not had a drinking water violation in well over 10 years. Yuma’s drinking water report did show that there was at least one water well close to the arsenic standard of 10 parts per billion. The Environmental Protection Agency changed the standard from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion several years ago. Eckley and Sterling are among the municipalities that have spent big dollars having to upgrade their water systems because they were out of compliance with the new standard. It also is why Yuma had to shut off its Fairgrounds Well — it consistently tested at 11-12 parts per billion. The Hansen Well at the south end of town comes close to the standard, but so far has stayed just below it at nine parts per billion.

The city of Yuma purchased two new wells a few years ago from farmers on the edge of town, so the city’s water supply actually is more than it was before the Fairgrounds Well was shut off. The town could afford to shut off one more well, but would have to take more drastic and expensive measures if more wells tested above the standard…

With this being an agricultural area, Yuma officials also closely watch for nitrate levels. However, that has not even been close to a problem. The latest round of tests showed Yuma’s wells in the range of 2.9 to 3.7 parts per million in nitrate, well below the health standard of 10 parts per million…

Sanderson noted before the interview was done that the City of Yuma maintains 1 million gallons of water storage, two square miles or 33 linear miles of water pipe, 150-some fire hydrants and 200-some valves, all while utility customers enjoy a water rate that is 60 percent below the state average.

More Republican River basin coverage here.


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