‘Holding back water would happen regardless of the amount of snowpack’ — Donnie Dustin #CODrought

December 9, 2012

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The problem: soot, sediment and debris washing from burned forests have made the Cache la Poudre River less reliable as Fort Collins’ main water supply for urban households. Particles clog treatment facilities. So, city officials say, they must heavily tap their secondary supply — water piped under mountains from the Western Slope. That water typically has been leased to farmers…

In the big picture, this intensifying water crunch reflects a shifting balance of power between cities and the agriculture that traditionally has anchored life along Colorado’s northern Front Range. Drought and the oil-and-gas industry’s appetite for drilling water already have weakened farmers’ position. Cities in recent years have purchased interests in irrigation-ditch companies. Farmers have sold their water rights, taking advantage of high prices. Financial stress and low commodity prices forced some to sell. Others simply sought profit. The result is that city interests increasingly dominate decision-making…

“We’ve got this twofold issue of drought complicated by fire, and the issue of more fires. What that will do to our water yields is very unknown,” said John Stulp, a Colorado agriculture leader serving as a special water adviser to Gov. John Hickenlooper…

For farmers, the trouble is hitting five months after the High Park fire, just as they prepare to make business decisions for the coming year. Given the uncertainties of sediment polluting the Poudre, Fort Collins “is extremely unlikely to make any water rentals” next year, city water-resources manager Donnie Dustin told farmers in a Nov. 14 e-mail. Holding back water would happen “regardless of the amount of snowpack,” Dustin wrote. “The ability to consistently treat Poudre River water is likely to be an ongoing concern for the next few years.”

Cities cannot be blamed for holding back water they now control, said Rocky Mountain Farmers Union president Kent Peppler. “Their first priority has to be domestic use, and if they think runoff from the fire is going to pollute their supplies, they have to do this,” he said. But agriculture “isn’t going to get any easier if these fires continue…

“We’ve been under stress this whole decade,” said Grant Family Farms owner Lewis Grant, 89, who serves on advisory boards for Larimer County and Fort Collins and is involved in efforts to preserve farms amid spreading subdivisions. “It’s almost hopeless for younger farmers. Land is so expensive. Water is so expensive.”

On the sprawling farm northwest of Wellington, Grant produces eggs that end up in Whole Foods Markets. The farm’s produce — including squash, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, kale and cabbage — is sold by King Soopers and other markets. Water rented from Fort Collins irrigates about 25 percent of his crops, he said. One solution may be for Fort Collins to install extra sediment-control tanks to enable consistent use of the Poudre. “That would seem reasonable to me,” Grant said.

City officials say they’re considering costs. Such facilities likely would force higher water bills for city dwellers and higher prices for farmers and energy companies that vie for city water.

More Cache La Poudre watershed coverage here.


Denver Water/USFS ‘From Forests to Faucets’ partnership update

November 29, 2012

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Here’s a guest column, written by Jim Lochhead and Dan Jirón, that’s running in The Denver Post. Here’s an excerpt:

We can’t prevent fire from occurring, but healthy forests can reduce the threat of catastrophic fire, like we experienced this year. Denver Water and the U.S. Forest Service have for decades worked side-by-side to care for the watersheds that provide water to Colorado citizens and Denver Water’s customers. Two years ago we forged a partnership — called “From Forests to Faucets” — to work in high-priority watersheds to accelerate forest health treatments that promote healthier, more resilient forests, reduce wildfire risks, restore burned areas and lessen erosion into reservoirs.

Last week, Denver Water and the U.S. Forest Service signed the third annual commitment of funds in support of this partnership. Together, we are focused on treating and restoring 38,000 acres of National Forest System lands in five priority watersheds including the Upper South Platte, South Platte headwaters, Colorado River headwaters, St. Vrain and Blue River. Since the From Forests to Faucets partnership began in 2010, we are currently treating nearly 17,000 acres.

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.


Poudre River: The High Park Fire has caused Fort Collins’ treatment costs to escalate by $1 million

November 24, 2012

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

After the summer’s fires incinerated large swathes of the Poudre River watershed, tons of ash and debris washed into the river during rainstorms, wreaking havoc with one of Fort Collins’ main sources of drinking water.

Standing on a layer of ash caked on the pebbly shore of the Poudre River, Lisa Voytko, city water production manager, said the High Park Fire could cost Fort Collins Utilities $1 million a year for the next two years just to keep the additional sediment out of the city’s tap water.

The city has a major water diversion operation in Poudre Canyon, the source of about half of the city’s water in most years.

At the Fort Collins-Loveland, North Weld County and East Larimer County water districts’ water intake and diversion dam a few miles upstream of Gateway Natural Area, it’s not hard to understand why the fire might cost the city so much.

A massive layer of ash and debris several feet thick has accumulated behind the dam since the fire. Once it reaches the river, the sediment becomes suspended in the water and ends up in the city’s water intake at Gateway Natural Area…

It’s unknown both how much water will be flowing down the Poudre next spring and, as the drought continues, how much water the city will be allowed to take from the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, or C-BT, and Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins water resources engineer Donnie Dustin told City Council on Tuesday.

The city, he said, is looking for ways to increase the amount of C-BT water it has access to, and that means the city may decide not to rent water to farmers, reducing Fort Collins Utilities’ revenue by $700,000 in 2013.

“Restrictions are likely to be implemented early in the spring as a precaution,” he said, adding that farmers that rely on Fort Collins for water are going to hurt next year.

“These conditions could persist for a few years,” he said.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Steven Meyers):

Like a farmer devoted to his crops, Robert Breckenridge is hoping and praying for precipitation. The owner of A1 Wildwater in Fort Collins for the past 31 years, Breckenridge prays for heavy snow to fall in the high country through April. Because, like the ski industry, rafting is a fickle business…

Combine a low snowpack year, a severe drought, and the worst fire Northern Colorado has ever seen, and you wind up with a disaster recipe for the Fort Collins rafting business.

More Poudre River Watershed coverage here.


Eagle: The town board is moving on adding more water treatment capacity

November 19, 2012

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From the Vail Daily (Pam Boyd):

As Eagle stands poised to grow with the new Eagle River Station and Haymeadow developments, the community now needs additional water-treatment capacity to meet potential demand. Tuesday night, the Eagle Town Board began to answer that demand by approving a special-use permit for a new lower basin water-treatment plant. The new plant will be built immediately east — or upstream — from the town’s wastewater-treatment plant located near the confluence of Brush Creek and the Eagle River. Preliminary estimates indicate it will cost around $16 million. The new plant will have an initial capacity of 2.5 million gallons per day and is designed for expansion of up to 5 million gallons per day. It will include two buildings — one covering 32,300 square feet and one covering 1,452 square feet…

During discussion of the plant proposal, Town Board member Joe Knabel asked about scheduling — specifically, the length of the planning period to get the facility up and operational. Eagle Town Engineer Tom Gosoirowski said in all likelihood, the plant is on at least a 30-month schedule to address permitting, financing and 20 months of construction.

Eagle Public Works Director Dusty Walls said that at present, during the summer, Eagle hits the 80 percent capacity mark for its water system, and that’s the point when the state wants towns to begin work on new treatment facilities. Mayor Yuri Kostick said that during the summer, town residents can use as much as 2.3 million gallons of water per day, but during the winter, the number is closer to 500,000.

More Eagle River Watershed coverage here and here.


Wiggins new water system still not online

November 13, 2012

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

During a special meeting of the Wiggins Board of Trustees Wednesday, Public Works Director Jon Richardson said he talked with a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about whether or not a proposal for putting the town’s pipeline through its flood levee was acceptable. He was told he would hear one way or another this week, but he had not heard yet, he told the board. He planned to call again at the end of the week.

Industrial Facilities Engineering — which is overseeing the water project — said it was still waiting on a company to figure out what it would cost Wiggins to adapt its new water treatment plant to blend water with its existing wells and its new water source, Richardson said. Blending is necessary, because the town does not have enough new water to fill its needs. Richardson said he expects to know how much it would cost next week.

More Wiggins coverage here and here.


Rifle: Voters approve additional sales tax to help finance new water treatment plant

November 9, 2012

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From The Rifle Citizen Telegram (Mike McKibbin):

By an overwhelming margin, Rifle voters said they wanted to share the cost of a new water treatment plant with shoppers and approved a 3/4 of a cent sales and use tax rate hike in Tuesday’s general election. Question 2A asked voters to approve the increase in exchange for lower future water rate hikes needed to build and operate a new $25 million water treatment plant…

The tax hike will take effect in January, raise an estimated $1.65 million a year, and increase the city’s sales and use tax rate from 3.5 cents to 4.25 cents…

The city borrowed $25.5 million from the Colorado Water and Power Development Authority to build the new plant. The loan comes from a special fund dedicated to water projects. The effective interest rate will be 1.86 percent, with $2 million loaned interest-free, resulting in what city officials called “an overall historic low loan rate.”

Repayment requirements of the loan led to sharply higher water rates in September, and more than doubled some customers’ water bills, payable in October. Money from the higher water rates will help pay for operations and associated costs of the new plant.

Miller said a few months into the new year, the city will look at how revenues are coming in from the tax hike, then very likely sharply reduce the September rate hikes, both base and tiered rates.

More Rifle coverage here.


Cement Creek restoration update: Treatment plant = $6.5 million, Annual expenses = $910,000

October 15, 2012

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From The Durango Herald (Mark Esper):

Sunnyside Gold Corp. last October offered to contribute up to $6.5 million to address water-quality issues in Cement Creek and the Animas River, including up to $5 million to operate “a cost-effective” treatment plant to process tainted water spewing from the mine portals above Silverton. But that $5 million for operations would keep the plant running only for about five years, according to the report by MWH Global, of Boise, Idaho.

However, Larry Perino, reclamation manager for Sunnyside Gold Corp., said the report “does not suggest that other less-expensive methodologies may not be feasible.” Perino said the purpose of the MWH Global report was not to suggest the ultimate determination of what may be the best alternative. “Rather, it is the goal of the report to set forth feasible alternatives against which other methodologies or alternatives may be measured.”[...]

The MWH Global report looked at five alternatives, with construction costs estimated at between $4.5 million and $6.5 million, and operating costs pegged at between $876,000 and $1.4 million.

MWH Global said that two of the alternatives stood out as “superior to the others” on a “nonfinancial screening criteria.” But it said one of those two alternatives has lower operating costs and thus “is financially superior.” The project is seen as a possible solution to heavy metals loading in Cement Creek from acidic mine drainage.

The problem is considered so serious that the Environmental Protection Agency found the site eligible for Superfund listing last year. But lacking community support, the EPA backed off its proposed listing in April and agreed to proceed with a collaborative process with the Animas River Stakeholders Group.

The four mine portals that are the focus of attention are the Mogul, Red & Bonita, Gold King No. 7 and the American Tunnel.

More water pollution coverage here.


CDPHE tells Castle Rock to develop plan for disposal of radioactive brine that will result from treating water at their new plant

October 3, 2012

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From the Castle Rock News-Press (Rhonda Moore):

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment notified the town’s utilities department that it must come up with a plan to manage the treatment residuals that will likely contain radioactive materials concentrated by treatment at the plant before March 2013, when the plant is fully operational, said Mark Salley, communications director for the state department. The plant is not creating any residuals at this time because it is still under construction and not operational, Salley said.

The department’s radioactive materials unit provides guidance to facilities where there is a potential for an elevated radioactive material concentration, said Jennifer Opila, radioactive materials unit leader. Opila’s group has provided guidance at 12 facilities in the last two years across Colorado. The department points out that uranium and radium are natural components of Colorado’s geology and will dissolve out of soils and into the state’s water, resulting in elevated levels of radionuclides in groundwater. The treatment process in a water treatment plant removes those contaminants and, when the radium residual levels exceed the state standard, the department’s goal is to ensure the safe removal of the resulting waste, or sludge, without bringing harm to anyone who comes in contact with the residuals, Opila said.

While the levels the state expects to see at the Plum Creek facility do not pose an acute hazard, safety measures at comparable levels would include protective gear such as safety gloves, shoe covering and full clothing covering, she said.

More water treatment coverage here and here.


2012 Colorado November election: Rifle city officials pitch sales tax hike as relief for water rate payers

October 2, 2012

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From the Rifle Citizen Telegram (Mike McKibbin) via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

Question 2A on the Nov. 6 general election ballot asks Rifle city voters if a 0.75 percent sales and use tax hike should be approved. It would take effect in January and increase the city’s sales and use tax rate from 3.5 percent to 4.25 percent. The added tax would raise an estimated $1.65 million a year. The issue has not led to any organized opposition…

In a memo to City Council, City Manager John Hier recommended that if the sales tax is approved, the city should eliminate a second water rate increase planned for April 2013, and lower the recent increase, “so the combined revenue from the sales tax and new rates will generate only that revenue needed to pay the debt service and increased operation and maintenance cost on the new plant.”

Due to the rock-bottom loan rate received from the state agency, Hier wrote in the memo, “it may be possible to lower … monthly base rates to $23 per month and significantly reduce the … tier rates.”

When the debt on the water plant is paid off, the 0.75 percent sales and use tax will end.

More Rifle coverage here and here.


Wiggins: New water treatment plant to undergo testing this week

September 17, 2012

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

The reverse osmosis filters will be installed Tuesday, and plant testing starts Wednesday, [Public Works Director Jon Richardson] said.

Unfortunately, town officials still do not know how they are supposed to complete a final section of water pipeline that would take the pipe through the town flood levee and allow water to start flowing.

Town Clerk Craig Trautwein said he spoke to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representative Tuesday, and he was expecting an e mail about which plan the corps would accept — if it accepts any of the proposed plans. The representative would not disclose the results until then, he said.

One piece of good news is that Industrial Facilities Engineering has agreed to eliminate some of the exclusions it had on a plan to blend the town’s existing well water with its new water until Wiggins has enough new water for all its needs.

More Wiggins coverage here and here.


Silverthorne and Basalt finish first and second in taste test

September 14, 2012

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From the Aspen Business Journal (Bob Berwyn):

“Like a party in my mouth,” one of the judges wrote next to sample identified only as “G.”

The testing went through three rounds, with the top two samples from each round making it to the finals. In the end, Silverthorne prevailed, while Basalt took second place and Aurora Water came in third after winning the competition last year.

“We have the benefit of using the water before anyone else does,” said Silverthorne public works director Bill Linfield, giving Mother Nature most of the credit for the victory.

From the Summit Daily News (Paige Blankenbuehler):

Silverthorne’s water comes from six different wells called the Blue River Alluvium, which sits at a lower elevated valley near Silverthorne, according to Kevin Batchelder, Silverthorne town manager. “We’re at the top of the food chain for clean, safe water,” Batchelder said. “We’re very lucky to have natural filtration and pristine, snow melt water.”[...]

Ranking behind Silverthorne, in its first-ever entry into the competition, Basalt took second place with Aurora Water coming in third…

As the winner, Silverthorne will represent Colorado in a national water-tasting contest later this year.

More water treatment coverage here and here.


Silverthorne takes top honors in tap water taste test — next up national competition

September 12, 2012

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From 9News.com (Matt Renoux):

Five judges in all took part in the 2013 American Water Works Association Water Tasting Competition in Copper Mountain. The judges sniffed, checked the clarity and tasted water samples from 16 cities in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. After more than an hour of drinking the water, judges turned in their results. This year Colorado swept the top three with Aurora taking third, Basalt second, and Silverthorne won out with the best-tasting water. Mellissa Elliott with Denver Water says that means Silverthorne will move on to represent Colorado in a National contest…

…National competition will be held in Denver next June. Denver Water took second in the nation last year. It will get to compete again because it gets an automatic entry in the national competition for being the host city.

From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

Basalt came in second out of 16 cities and towns in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico that entered water for a taste testing at an American Water Works Association conference at Copper Mountain. Silverthorne won the competition and will represent Colorado in a national water-tasting contest later this year.

More water treatment coverage here and here.


Fort Morgan Water Treatment Plant is trying to get a handle on odor causing bacteria — actinomycetes

August 29, 2012

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

City workers at the Fort Morgan Water Treatment Plant have identified the source of an earthy odor and sometimes taste in city water that had been reported by residents over the last year.
Now, the workers are seeking to eliminate the cause of the odor, which was due to a treatment process to kill and remove naturally occurring, nontoxic bacteria called actinomycetes, according to City Clerk/Public Information Officer John Brennan.

“It is actually the destruction of these bacteria during the water treatment process, not the bacteria themselves, that can cause a musty odor that is noticeable to some people in the finished water that comes out of their faucets,” Brennan stated.

Actinomycetes are a large group of bacteria that are responsible for the characteristically “earthy” smell of freshly turned, healthy soil, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

Modifications are being made to the treatment process to help get rid of this odor. “Some of the chemicals used in treatment can intensify the odors that result from destruction of the bacteria,” Brennan stated. “Other treatment options are being investigated that are not currently used in the process.”

City residents reported earthy odors and organic smells and tastes in city water as far back as late summer 2011.

More water treatment coverage here and here.


Rifle City Council approves ballot question to raise sales tax for new water treatment plant

August 23, 2012

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From the Rifle Citizen Telegram (Mike McKibbin):

If approved by city voters, the increase will help the city repay a $25.5 million loan from the Colorado Water and Power Development Authority. The loan, on which the city closed on Aug. 14, will fund the construction of a new water treatment plant to replace the current Graham Mesa plant, which is old and in danger of failure, according to city officials.

The sales and use tax hike, if approved in November, would take effect in January and would end once the loan is repaid. It would increase the city’s sales tax rate from 3.5 cents to 4.25 cents and would raise an estimated $1.65 million a year.

More Rifle coverage here and here.


Ceratium and gomphosphaeria are blooming in Arvada Reservoir

August 19, 2012

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From the Arvada Press (Sara Van Cleve):

Because of the extreme heat this summer, several kinds of algae, specifically ceratium and gomphosphaeria, have sprouted in Arvada Reservoir. “It’s the extended period of it that’s causing it to grow,” said Wendy Forbes, communications manager for the city of Arvada. “There is not enough fluctuation in temperatures.”

As the algae dies, it releases into the water a harmless chemical that causes the change in smell and taste, Forbes said. Though some residents have tasted and smelled the algae’s effects in their water, Forbes said, it is completely harmless.

“Arvada Water is adding carbons to the system to help with some of that,” she said. “It should stop once the algae is gone.” It takes about four days for water to pass through the purification system completely, so it takes about that long to collect enough data to see if the extra carbon is helping.

More water treatment coverage here.


Michigan State University professor helps devise method of removing phosphorous from wastewater

August 15, 2012

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Here’s the release from Michigan State University:

A professor at Michigan State University is part of a team developing a new method of removing phosphorous from our wastewater – a problem seriously affecting lakes and streams across the country.

In addition, Steven Safferman, an associate professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering, and colleagues at Columbus, Ohio, based-MetaMateria Technologies, are devising a cost-effective way of recovering the phosphorous, which then can be reused for fertilizer products.

Although its use is regulated in many states, including Michigan, in items such as detergents and fertilizer, phosphorous is part of all food and remains a critical problem as it is always present in human and animal wastes.

Discharge from human and industrial wastewater and runoff into lakes and streams can cause what is known as eutrophication – making the water unsuitable for recreational purposes and reducing fish populations – as well as causing the growth of toxic algae.

What MetaMateria Technologies and Safferman have figured out and tested over the past 10 years is how to produce a media, enhanced with nanoparticles composed of iron, that can more efficiently remove larger amounts of phosphorous from water.

“Phosphorous that is dissolved in wastewater, like sugar in water, is hard to remove,” Safferman said. “We found that a nano-media made with waste iron can efficiently absorb it, making it a solid that can be easily and efficiently removed and recovered for beneficial reuse.”

Safferman added there are indications that their method of phosphorous retrieval is much more cost effective than processing phosphate rock.

“Research suggests that it is significantly cheaper to recover phosphorous this way. So why would you mine phosphorous?” he asked. “And, at the same time, you’re helping to solve a serious environmental problem.”

The material should be commercially available for use within two years, said J. Richard Schorr, MetaMateria CEO.

“Phosphorous is a finite material,” Schorr said “Analyses show that the supply of phosphorous may become limited within the next 25 to 50 years. This is an economical way to harvest and recycle phosphorous.”

More water treatment coverage here.


Chemical widely used in antibacterial hand soaps may impair muscle function

August 14, 2012

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Here’s the release from the University of California Davis:

Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical widely used in hand soaps and other personal-care products, hinders muscle contractions at a cellular level, slows swimming in fish and reduces muscular strength in mice, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Colorado. The findings appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

“Triclosan is found in virtually everyone’s home and is pervasive in the environment,” said Isaac Pessah, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator of the study. “These findings provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health.”

Triclosan is commonly found in antibacterial personal-care products such as hand soaps as well as deodorants, mouthwashes, toothpaste, bedding, clothes, carpets, toys and trash bags. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1998 estimated that more than 1 million pounds of triclosan are produced annually in the United States, and that the chemical is detectable in waterways and aquatic organisms ranging from algae to fish to dolphins, as well as in human urine, blood and breast milk.

The investigators performed several experiments to evaluate the effects of triclosan on muscle activity, using doses similar to those that people and animals may be exposed to during everyday life.

In “test tube” experiments, triclosan impaired the ability of isolated heart muscle cells and skeletal muscle fibers to contract. Specifically, the team evaluated the effects of triclosan on molecular channels in muscle cells that control the flow of calcium ions, creating muscle contractions. Normally, electrical stimulation (“excitation”) of isolated muscle fibers under experimental conditions evokes a muscle contraction, a phenomenon known as “excitation-contraction coupling,” the fundamental basis of any muscle movement, including heartbeats. But in the presence of triclosan, the normal communication between two proteins that function as calcium channels was impaired, causing skeletal and cardiac muscle failure.

The team also found that triclosan impairs heart and skeletal muscle contractility in living animals. Anesthetized mice had up to a 25-percent reduction in heart function measures within 20 minutes of exposure to the chemical.

“The effects of triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic,” said Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, professor of cardiovascular medicine at UC Davis and a study co-author. “Although triclosan is not regulated as a drug, this compound acts like a potent cardiac depressant in our models.”

In addition, the mice had an 18-percent reduction in grip strength for up to 60 minutes after being given a single dose of triclosan. Grip strength is a widely used measure of mouse limb strength, employed to investigate the effects of drugs and neuromuscular disorders.

Finally, the investigators looked at the effects of triclosan exposure on fathead minnows, a small fish commonly used as a model organism for studying the potential impacts of aquatic pollutants. Those exposed to triclosan in the water for seven days had significantly reduced swimming activity compared to controls during both normal swimming and swim tests designed to imitate fish being threatened by a predator.

“We were surprised by the large degree to which muscle activity was impaired in very different organisms and in both cardiac and skeletal muscle,” said Bruce Hammock, a study co-author and professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology. “You can imagine in animals that depend so totally on muscle activity that even a 10-percent reduction in ability can make a real difference in their survival.”

The UC Davis research team has previously linked triclosan to other potentially harmful health effects, including disruption of reproductive hormone activity and of cell signaling in the brain.

Chiamvimonvat cautioned that translating results from animal models to humans is a large step and would require further study. However, the fact that the effects were so striking in several animal models under different experimental conditions provides strong evidence that triclosan could have effects on animal and human health at current levels of exposure.

“In patients with underlying heart failure, triclosan could have significant effects because it is so widely used,” Chiamvimonvat said. “However, without additional studies, it would be difficult for a physician to distinguish between natural disease progression and an environmental factor such as triclosan.”

Pessah questioned arguments that triclosan — introduced more than 40 years ago — is safe partly because it binds to blood proteins, making it not biologically available. Although triclosan may bind to proteins in the blood, that may not necessarily make the chemical inactive, he said, and actually may facilitate its transport to critical organs. In addition, some of the current experiments were carried out in the presence of blood proteins, and disrupted muscle activity still occurred.

Although triclosan was first developed to prevent bacterial infections in hospitals, its use has become widespread in antibacterial products used in the home. However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, other than its use in some toothpastes to prevent gingivitis, there is no evidence that triclosan provides other health benefits or that antibacterial soaps and body washes are more effective than regular soap and water. Experts also express concern about the possibility of resistant bacterial strains developing with the overuse of antibacterial products.

Because the chemical structure of triclosan resembles other toxic chemicals that persist in the environment, the FDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are conducting new risk assessments of the chemical. Based on their study outcomes, the researchers argue that the potential health risks call for greater restrictions.

“We have shown that triclosan potently impairs muscle functions by interfering with signaling between two proteins that are of fundamental importance to life,” said Pessah. “Regulatory agencies should definitely be reconsidering whether it should be allowed in consumer products.”

Said Hammock: “Triclosan can be useful in some instances, however it has become a ubiquitous ‘value added’ marketing factor that actually could be more harmful than helpful. At the very least, our findings call for a dramatic reduction in its use.”

A copy of the study, titled “Triclosan impairs excitation-contraction coupling and Ca2+ dynamics in striated muscle,” can be requested by e-mailing PNASNews@nas.edu.

Other authors of the study were Gennady Cherednichenko, Rui Zhang, Erika Fritsch, Wei Feng and Genaro Barrientos of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine; Roger Bannister and Kurt Beam of the University of Colorado Denver-Anschutz Medical Campus; Valeriy Timofeyev and Ning Li of the UC Davis Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; and Nils Schebb of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.


2012 Colorado November election: Rifle Council puts funding for new water treatment plant on the November ballot

August 9, 2012

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From the Rifle Citizen Telegram (Niki Turner):

The city wants to get the money for the plant through a $25.5 million loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Authority.

City officials have said the existing Graham Mesa plant is aging, undersized to serve projected population growth and unable to meet possible tougher federal water quality standards in the future.

Under the water rate structure approved earlier this year by council to help repay the loan and cover operating costs of the new plant, the base rate charged to city water users will nearly double, as of Sept. 1.

City Finance Director Charles Kelty said Tuesday that if voters approve the three-quarter cent sales tax measure in November, the second phase of the rate hike, due to take affect April 1, could be lowered. That would require City Council action sometime after the first of the year, he added.

Kelty said the bonds for the loan were sold last week and he expected to receive the paperwork this week. After those documents are signed by city officials and returned to the water and power authority, the closing date will be Aug. 14. No further action by council is needed to finalize the loan, he added.

More 2012 Colorado November Election coverage here. More infrastructure coverage here.


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

August 5, 2012

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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

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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

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Say hello to GetIntoWater.org. 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

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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 www.usbr.gov/ruralwater 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

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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

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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 TheDenverChannel.com. (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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 www.change.org/petitions.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.


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