Parker opens new water treatment plant

The water treatment process
The water treatment process

From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

Roughly 10 percent of Parker’s water is now going through a state-of-the-art treatment plant near Rueter-Hess Reservoir.

After a few initial hiccups, including the failure of a pump and issues with the feeding of chemicals used to rid the water of impurities, the $50.7 million treatment plant opened in mid-July following three weeks of testing.

Soon after, a handful of Parker Water and Sanitation District officials took their first drink of water processed through the sophisticated system of pumps, pipes and filters.

“We wanted to make sure everything was solid before we sent it out through the system,” said Ron Redd, district manager for Parker Water. “It tasted good!”

Construction began in 2012 on the treatment plant, which has been billed as an integral part of shifting from a reliance on nonrenewable groundwater in aquifers to renewable surface water. It incorporates many of the newest technologies and eventually will be able to process 40 million gallons per day. The first phase of construction spawned a facility that can churn out about 10 million gallons of treated water per day.

The new treatment plant processes 1.5 million gallons of the 12-million-gallon average needed to satisfy daily summertime demands, Redd said…

Four employees are based out of the treatment plant…

Approximately 20 percent of the total construction costs went toward ceramic filters that are more durable than traditional plastic filters and expected to last from 20-25 years.

“What’s different about this plant is it’s a fairly state-of-the-art facility,” Redd said. “It’s gathering a lot of attention from across the country and the world because of the technology we’re using. We’re anticipating lots of phone calls and (requests for) tours.”

Castlewood Canyon Flood August 3, 1933 — Mark Afman

Click here to go to the History Colorado website for “Where were you when the dam broke?”: Castlewood Canyon Booklet Collects Flood of Memories. Here’s an excerpt:

On the evening of August 3, 1933, Elsie Henderson’s urgent voice raced down the Sullivan Telephone Exchange’s wires, outpacing Cherry Creek’s northbound floodwaters. Notified by a Douglas County sheriff that Castlewood Dam had burst and that everything along the stream’s path from Franktown to Denver was in danger, the operator told farmers and ranchers to gather their families and head for higher ground.

At that time, rural telephone customers often shared single wires called “party lines.” The telephone company assigned phone numbers made up of unique ring patterns to each customer (for example, one short ring followed by two long rings). Elsie, one of only two people available to operate the Sullivan switchboard that night, alerted people with one long ring, the universally recognized sound for an emergency. She and fellow Sullivan Exchange employee Ingrid Mosher worked through the night and into the following afternoon, saving lives, livestock, and property. Though five thousand fled the lowlands, only two people died in one of the worst floods in Colorado history.

In time, Elsie’s deeds might have been washed downriver and forgotten. The story survives thanks to George Madsen, a friend who took the time to answer a 1994 letter from Castlewood Canyon State Park staff requesting personal reminiscences about the flood. Madsen, a former telephone company employee, wrote down his own memories, along with the stories told to him by Elsie and Ingrid years earlier. Dozens of other Coloradans answered the call too, typing their recollections on legal-sized sheets of paper headed by the question, “Where Were You When the Dam Broke?” In 1997 Castlewood Canyon State Park staff members assembled these memories into a compelling book called, The Night the Dam Gave Way: A Diary of Personal Accounts.

More Cherry Creek watershed coverage here.

Fishing to be a big part of Rueter-Hess recreation — The Parker Chronicle

Rueter Hess Reservoir
Rueter Hess Reservoir

From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

Parker Water has begun the first phase of a fish-stocking program that will excite anglers for years to come.

The district’s initial purpose in stocking the reservoir is to follow through with an aquatic vegetation management plan, required by the district’s environmental impact statement.

“The reservoir’s volume has now reached a point that we are comfortable with implementing the stocking plan,” said Ron Redd, district manager.

The approved fish-stocking strategy was developed by Aquatics Associates Inc., with the initial plan being implemented from 2015-19. The recommended phased approach is to first stock the reservoir with forage species, including fathead minnows and bluegill.

Each stocking phase, at an anticipated cost of $27,000-$29,000, will span four consecutive years, with populations expanding on their own as the reservoir increases with size. Other game fish will be introduced in 2016 or later, including, but not limited to, channel catfish and rainbow trout. Stocking largemouth bass in 2017 will help to maintain a balanced and successful fishery.

The fishery biologists at Aquatics Associates predict that in future years, the reservoir will be able to support up to 20-pound rainbow trout.

To find out more about recreation at Rueter-Hess Reservoir, click here.

More Rueter-Hess Reservoir coverage here and here.

South Platte Basin: Road de-icer and Cherry Creek

De-icer application via FreezGard
De-icer application via FreezGard

From 9News.com (Brandon Rittman):

Denver’s Cherry Creek got saltier over the past decades, with chloride levels on pace to pose a danger to fish in the city’s iconic tributary of the South Platte River…

Cherry Creek’s winter average rose closer to that threshold, measuring 174 mg/l between 2006 and 2010, which is up from a wintertime average of 122 mg/l during the 1990 to 1994 seasons – a jump of 43 percent.

The USGS says as more areas become urbanized, the use of rock salt on roads and sidewalks increases, making its way into streams.

More importantly, the data shows the problem compounding year over year because stream systems are not able to flush out all of the salt during the warm months.

The effect is a higher baseline of salt content each year, allowing the levels to inch upward each cold season in urban areas.

Salt compounds like magnesium chloride and rock salt are highly effective at decreasing the hazards of icy surfaces.

“Deicing operations help to provide safe winter transportation conditions, which is very important,” the study’s lead author Steve Corsi said in a press release. “Findings from this study emphasize the need to consider deicer management options that minimize the use of road salt while still maintaining safe conditions.”

There are few true alternatives to road salt, and other treatments can come with their own pollution problems. For instance, applying sand to roadways can cause air pollution when cars grind the material into dust.

The USGS study found similar increases over the time period in other areas of the country, with the most severe chloride pollution levels measured in midwestern cities like Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland.

Salt applied in winter is a concern year-round. The study concludes, “elevated chloride concentrations in these streams through all seasons have implications on long-term exposures to chloride for aquatic organisms.”

The average summertime chloride level in Cherry Creek rose from 62 to 101 mg/l during the time periods in the study.

By contrast, the study found streams in less-developed areas of Wisconsin and Oregon were able to maintain average chloride levels measurable in single digits.

More water pollution coverage here.

The Special District Association of Colorado recognizes Parker Water and Sanitation for collaboration

Rhode Island Hotel 1908 Parker via Best of Parker
Rhode Island Hotel 1908 Parker via Best of Parker

From the Parker Chronicle:

The Parker Water and Sanitation District is one of three special districts to be given a collaboration award this year.

The award was given by the Special District Association of Colorado during an annual conference Sept. 10-12 in Keystone. The collaboration award is given to districts “that have effectively and efficiently partnered with other entities and local governments” to benefit water users, according to a news release.

The PWSD joined with the Rampart Range and Sierra Ridge metro districts on a sewer system for the RidgeGate development in Lone Tree, which is served by Parker Water. The joint effort resulted in reduced infrastructure costs for citizens and an award for all three districts.

Ann Terry, the executive director of the Special District Association, said the project is a “true testament to the success that can be achieved through partnerships.”

More Parker coverage here and here.

Castlewood Canyon State Park “Dam Day” August 2

From Colorado Parks and Wildlife via the Parker Chronicle:

Castlewood Canyon State Park will mark the 81 anniversary of Denver’s second worst flood with “Dam Day” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 2.

The failure of Castlewood Dam on Aug. 3, 1933, caused the destruction of bridges, and pastures and croplands were wiped out. Logs floated all the way into the lobby of Union Station in downtown Denver and a man named Tom Casey lost his life.

Dam Day activities will be at the visitor center, Event Facilities Shelter No. 1, on the east side of the park, and near the remains of Castlewood Dam on the park’s west side.

At the visitor center, children can experience what it was like on that dark and stormy night. They will get a glimpse at what the dam caretaker, Hugh Payne, felt and saw as he tried to walk out on the dam to open the valves to release the water and save the dam. It was 1:30 a.m. during a thunderstorm and he only had a kerosene lamp.

At EFS No. 1 kids can build candy dams mortared with frosting (a word to the wise — do not follow the design of Castlewood Dam, it lasted only 43 years). There will be a model of the canyon and dam. They can also fill the Castlewood Reservoir with water and see the effects rushing water can have on the canyon.

At the base of the dam, visitors can speak with Margaret Lucas, an area homesteader portrayed by a Castlewood volunteer, about her experiences that frightful night. Payne will be portrayed by another volunteer and explain the events that led up to the failure. The two will have pictures from 1933 that show the turmoil and damage caused by the water to Speer Boulevard and downtown Denver.

Friends of Castlewood Canyon State Park will be serving a Dam Good Lunch at EFS No. 1. It is a fundraiser to obtain funds to give Castlewood Canyon State Park a 50th birthday present of more land this year.

Programs are free, however, all vehicles entering the park must display a valid Colorado state parks pass. For more event information, call the park at 303-688-5242.

More Cherry Creek watershed coverage here.