Durango councilors vote to continue fluoride dosing

Calcium fluoride
Calcium fluoride

From The Durango Herald (Mary Shinn):

The Durango City Council decided Tuesday fluoride will remain in the city’s drinking water.

Public health arguments that fluoridated water helps protect those with limited access to dental care seemed to sway councilors…

The question deadlocked the city’s Utilities Commission, so that advisory board did not have a united position to present, but the commission’s chairman, John Ballew, and San Juan Basin Health Department Executive Director Liane Jollon both spoke in favor of fluoride…

The Utilities Commission has been exploring fluoridation in drinking water since fall. The board heard presentations from residents who want to see fluoridation ended and from health officials who tout widespread fluoridation as a public health victory.

Colorado Springs woman fights for free bottled water for Security-Widefield, Fountain residents

Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.
Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Ellie Mulder):

In an online petition that has received about 2,000 signatures, Callie Loudenber is asking local and state officials to pay for bottled water and filters for El Paso County residents whose water she calls “dangerous.”

[…]

After reading about the issue Friday, Loudenber ran an online search on how to create a petition. She was directed to change.org.

She began sharing the petition on her personal social media, and it soon took off.

Although she is asking for short-term solutions, including free bottled water, she also is advocating for a long-term solution “that doesn’t increase these residents bills to pay for a problem they didn’t create and have been living with for years,” according to the petition.

She emphasizes that someone doesn’t have to live in the Security area to be concerned about the issue of contaminated water.

“I want it in people’s minds. I want people to be talking about it, thinking about it – not just in Colorado,” she said. “This could happen anywhere, and it’s something we need to take seriously.”

She’s a stay-at-home mother who lives in Colorado Springs, but she has already witnessed the effect the situation is having on her family members who live in Security Water District’s Zone 1. Her aunt, for example, has asked family not to visit because “she doesn’t feel comfortable” about it, Loudenber said.

In addition to creating the petition, she has reached out to businesses and organizations, including Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, which will hold a bottled water distribution for affected residents from 10 a.m. to noon Friday at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, 5354 U.S. Highway 85.

Loudenber said she plans to volunteer at the distribution.

Shannon Brice, Care and Share’s marketing and communications director, said the organization wants to make sure residents don’t have to cut into their food budgets to buy bottled water.

“We’re well aware of the need for people to have healthy food and nourishment for their bodies,” Brice said. “We wanted to make sure we were part of the solution.”

Danielle Oller, spokeswoman for El Paso County Public Health, said a community meeting is planned for 6 p.m. July 7 to provide “clear information to residents to address the concerns that they’re having. Information about the location will be released shortly.

The county will also test private wells for free, Oller said. For more information, call El Paso County Public Health at 575-8602.

On the petition’s page, Loudenber shares links to articles and places to go for further information. Many include examples of how other states have dealt with similar issues.

“I’m really careful to make sure I stay away from anything that looks like it might be relayed to a conspiracy theory, because I don’t want to invalidate what we’re doing,” she said.

The petition, titled “Free Bottled Water for Security, CO,” can be found at http://change.org/p/colorado-governor-free-bottled-water-for-security-co.

“The history of #Colorado Springs is a history of bold and ambitious water projects” — Mayor John Suthers

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Usually a water treatment plant just sits off to the side of a city, pumping along with little notice unless something goes wrong.

But more than 300 people gathered Friday at the Edward W. Bailey treatment plant on Colorado Springs’ east side to dedicate the Southern Delivery System.

A choir belted out “God Bless America” with its inspiration, Pikes Peak, as a backdrop. People who had worked on the project over its more than 20-year history reconnected. At the end, there was a grand toast with — what else? — a jigger of water from keepsake mini-jugs.

“The history of Colorado Springs is a history of bold and ambitious water projects,” Mayor John Suthers told the crowd. “Without those bold and ambitious water projects, Colorado Springs would be a city of only 20,000 or 30,000.”

Instead it has grown to 450,000, and with SDS makes it possible for the city to get bigger.

That made most of the people at the ceremony happy. Suthers and others praised the regional benefits of SDS, urging cooperation in areas such as economic development and transportation.

“Water has been our community’s greatest challenge and its greatest resource,” said Jerry Forte, CEO of Colorado Springs Utilities. “Nothing happens without water.”

Forte detailed the history of the $825 million water pipeline from Pueblo Dam to Colorado Springs, explaining that planning dates back to 1996, when the idea crystallized in the Colorado Springs Water Plan. It was one of four alternatives in the document, but the only one that made it to the finish line.

It was a tortured run, however, filled with disputes in Lake, Chaffee, Fremont, Pueblo and Crowley counties. Forte nodded at the entanglements only briefly.

“There were lots of opportunity to build character and relationships,” he deadpanned as the crowd started chuckling.

Instead, he concentrated on the accomplishments that led to SDS, recognizing former officials such as Lionel Rivera, who was mayor of Colorado Springs when a deal was made in 2004 on Arkansas River flows through Pueblo. Seated next to Rivera was Randy Thurston, who pushed his fellow members on Pueblo City Council to approve the agreement. He enumerated the benefits of SDS to Colorado Springs’ partners Fountain, Security and Pueblo West.

Forte also lamented that SDS required 470 permits, which was a good set-up line for Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who joked: “How many of you thought SDS stood for Still Doing Studies.”

On a serious note, Gardner praised the collaboration it took to build SDS, saying more projects like it are needed, citing their importance in Colorado’s Water Plan.

“If we do not invest in water projects, Colorado will see a shortfall of 500,000 acre-feet per year,” Gardner said. “That’s five times the supply of Colorado Springs.”

While the event maintained a festive spirit, some from Pueblo County who attended were more low-key in their assessment of SDS.

“Technologically, it’s an amazing accomplishment,” said Bill Alt, whose property on Fountain Creek is being destroyed because of increased flows from the north. “I’m not sure all the cooperation they were talking about is there. I’d have to say the stormwater agreement probably benefit everyone.”

Jane Rhodes, who also owns land on Fountain Creek, said there are still challenges ahead in dealing with Fountain Creek flooding.

“The first of the $50 million payments will come, and one of those projects is on my land,” Rhodes said. “I’m glad SDS is done so the projects can get started.”

From 9News.com (Maya Rodriquez):

Fifty million gallons: it’s the amount of water that will be flowing through a new water system every day.

It’s called the Southern Delivery System, or SDS. It is the largest water system built in the western U.S. so far in the 21st century.

The planning for it began 20 years ago. After nearly a billion dollars and more than 470 permits later, it’s now a reality in Colorado Springs.

“In the whole western United States, water is probably the most precious commodity that we have and all of us need to do what we can to steward water,” Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte said.

That is where the system comes in – it is designed to treat water efficiently, as more and more people move to southern Colorado.

“This is all the piping that goes put to the finished water tank to be delivered to the customer,” said Operations Superintendent Chad Sell. “One of the most state of the art facilities in Colorado.”

The system serves more than a half million people in Colorado Springs, parts of Pueblo and the communities of Fountain and Security. Within 50 years, though, 900,000 people are expected to get their water from SDS.

“I think the long-term vision that put this in place means we’re good for the next 50 years,” said Colorado Springs Utilities Board Chair Andy Pico. “We have water. Water in the West is critical.”

Even as they celebrate the opening of the SDS as it stands now, they’re already planning for a second phase that will eventually expand it to handle more water for more people.

Colorado Springs officials say the SDS project did not receive any state or federal dollars. The 830-million dollar project, which also came in more than $100 million under budget, is being funded through bonds and will be paid for by its water customers of today and the next 30 years.

From KRDO.com (Angelica Lombardi):

After more than 20 years of planning and construction, Colorado Springs Utilities dedicated the historic Southern Delivery System water project at the Edward W. Bailey water treatment plant Friday morning.

On April 28, history flowed out of this historic Southern Delivery System for the first time.

It took decades of planning and six years of construction and Friday morning the hard work was recognized.

“I’ve been involved in this project for 14-plus years. To see it complete with excellence and all the people who contributed. I was overwhelmed,” said Jerry Forte, CEO of Colorado Springs Utilities…

“It’s amazing for Colorado Springs and our partners. It means water for the future. We call Southern Delivery ‘water for generations’ and what that means is our children and grandchildren will be able to have water in Colorado Springs for 50, 60-plus years from now,” said Forte.

The water is pumped out of the Pueblo Reservoir and makes its way through 50 miles of pipeline going through three pump stations and ending at Colorado Springs…

It took more than 470 permits to finalize the project.

SDS Facts

  • The Water Treatment Plant has approximately 200 miles of electrical wires and cables, enough to stretch from the Water Treatment Plant site nearly to the International Space Station or the Pueblo Reservoir four times.
  • The Water Treatment Plant used enough rebar to fill 54, 50-foot rail cars or a train half-a-mile
  • If the concrete masonry blocks used in construction of the Water Treatment Plant were stacked, they would be four-and-a-half times taller than Pikes Peak.
  • The raw water tank at the Water Treatment Plant has a capacity of 10 million gallons, enough to fill 200,000 bathtubs.
  • 5,401 truckloads of pipe to SDS projects
  • Net tons of steel used for pipe furnished was 37,810.
  • From the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

    Some 400 to 500 people gathered at the Edward W. Bailey Water Treatment Plant, 977 N. Marksheffel Road, Friday morning to dedicate the Southern Delivery System pipeline project.

    The project, 20 years in the making,d represents the service, safety, commitment and excellence brought to bear by hundreds, even thousands, of people, said Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte.

    He noted that the project adds another noteworthy item to Colorado Springs’ water history, which began in the late 1800s when city founder Gen. William Jackson Palmer built the El Paso County Canal from Fountain Creek on what is now 33rd Street, Forte said.

    SDS, he noted, will provide water for generations to come.

    SDS first appeared in the city’s water master plan in 1996 and was geared to supply water to the 20,000-acre Banning Lewis Ranch, which had been annexed into the city in 1988. Only a fraction of that property is built out, but SDS now is viewed as a crucial component of the city’s existing system to ensure redundancy. Most of the city’s water comes from transmountain systems built in the 1950s and 1980s. SDS brings water from Pueblo Reservoir.

    Although Rep. Doug Lamborn heralded the project for not requiring federal money, the Pueblo Dam and reservoir project was part of the Frying Pan-Arkansas project built in the 1960s and 1970s by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, along with a special district that collected property tax money in the region. SDS, obviously, wouldn’t have been possible without that reservoir on the Arkansas River.

    City Council President Merv Bennett demonstrated the span of time needed to plan and build SDS by noting 11 Councils have played key roles in the project. He recognized El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark, a former Council member, who he said laid the groundwork for relationships with Pueblo officials; former Mayor Lionel Rivera, who oversaw the project as both mayor and a Council member; Randy Thurston, former Pueblo City Council member; former Vice Mayor Larry Small, who now runs the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, which grew from SDS negotiations; and Margaret Radford, former Council member who now works for an SDS contractor, MWH Global.

    CSU Chair Andy Pico boasted that the project was originally envisioned to cause water rates to increase by 121 percent, but it has required increases to rates of only 52 percent. The $825 million project came in $160 million under budget.

    Mayor John Suthers also spoke. His role might have been one of the most pivotal, because he sorted out a mess created by his predecessor, Steve Bach, in terms of the city’s stormwater situation, which had become a nearly insurmountable barrier to the project.

    First, Suthers had to deal with federal and state clean-water regulators who have accused the city of failing to comply with the Clean Water Act for years before Suthers took office in June 2015. Those negotiations are ongoing. Second, Suthers had to find a quick solution to stormwater improvements to satisfy Pueblo County commissioners, who threatened to reopen the city’s SDS construction permit. (Bach opposed a ballot measure in 2014 that would have funded stormwater work.)

    Suthers finessed a deal in which the city agreed to spend $460 million in the next 20 years to upgrade and maintain the city’s drainage facilities. Pueblo officials accepted the deal, clearing the way for water to begin flowing through the SDS pipeline in late April, as scheduled. (Bach was invited to, but did not attend, Friday’s SDS dedication.)

    Suthers said the city would have remained a tourist town of 20,000 but for its water resources. “Our future is bright, and we are poised for continued success,” he said.

    In a surprise development, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., showed up and lauded the city for the project. “It can’t be said enough how important water infrastructure is to the state of Colorado,” he said. “It’s our past. It’s our present, and it’s our future. It’s my hope this [project] can be replicated throughout Colorado, because water will continue to drive our success.”

    Others who spoke included CSU’s Chief Water Officer Dan Higgins, and the project director since 2007, attorney John Fredell, who became the face of SDS in the past decade through contracting, negotiations with neighbors, legal wrangling and interviews with the media. About 470 permits were required for the project.

    As Forte said, “We never would have reached this point today without one person,” that being Fredell.

    When Fredell stepped to the dais, he received a standing ovation from a crowd that included elected officials, contractors, project partners, officials from surrounding towns and Pueblo, Utilities employees and citizens.

    Fredell, in turn, thanked Forte for his “trust and vision and leading every step of the way.”

    After the speeches, the crowd was invited to open gift boxes at each chair which contained a commemorative coin and a little glass of SDS water, used to toast the project.

    All that was left at the end of 75 minutes of speeches was to have a sip of SDS water. Photo via the Colorado Springs Independent.
    All that was left at the end of 75 minutes of speeches was to have a sip of SDS water. Photo via the Colorado Springs Independent.

    To take a trip back in time through the Coyote Gulch history of the Southern Delivery Click here and click here.

    EPA: Home Drinking Water Filtration Fact Sheet

    Photo via http://wholehousewatersystem.com
    Photo via http://wholehousewatersystem.com

    Click here to read the fact sheet. Here’s an excerpt:

    Home Water Treatment Facts

    Americans spend billions of dollars each year on home water treatment units.According to theWater Quality Association, more than four out of 10 Americans use a home water treatment unit.These units range from simple pitchers costing less than $20 to sophisticated reverse osmosis units costing hundreds of dollars.

    Some people use a home water treatment unit to improve the taste of their tap water. Others treat their water because of health concerns.While EPA does not endorse specific units, the Agency does set and enforce national standards for the tap water provided by public water systems.

    Drinking water can reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants.As long as those contaminants are at levels no higher than EPA standards, the water is considered safe to drink for healthy people. People with severely weakened immune systems or other specific health conditions, or those concerned about specific contaminants present in local drinking water, may wish to further treat their water at home or purchase high quality bottled water.

    Before purchasing a home water treatment unit, consider local water quality, cost and maintenance of the unit, product performance, and certifications to make sure that the unit will meet your needs.

    City of Rifle bans outdoor watering

    Rifle Gap Reservoir via the Applegate Group
    Rifle Gap Reservoir via the Applegate Group

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Erin McIntyre):

    Problems with the city of Rifle’s water treatment system have led officials to ban outdoor watering for at least the next few days.

    The announcement came in the middle of the first heat wave of summer, with 90-degree highs forecast through Tuesday by the National Weather Service.

    The city asked its 9,700 customers to curb their water use as much as possible, and prohibited any outdoor use of water, forcing businesses such as car washes to shut down until the problem is fixed.

    Utilities Director Jim Miller said Rifle law enforcement officers were tasked with reminding residents not to water outdoors, temporarily policing water use.

    Though residents with wells or irrigation water from ditches were not included in the ban, use of potable drinking water from the municipal system is prohibited until further notice. Residents were notified to stop watering outside with a reverse 911 phone call.

    The problems started on June 1, when a supply line that provided water from the Colorado River to the main pump station broke. The 14-inch water line, which runs under railroad tracks and a state highway, had a major leak that was resolved by the following morning, Miller said.

    But what transpired was a bigger problem — the initial leak put stress on the pump station that brings the water from the supply line to the Graham Mesa treatment plant, and all of the check valves broke, causing the malfunction.

    Though the city has a second, smaller treatment plant and pump station on Beaver Creek, located on Taughenbaugh Mesa, its capacity provides only roughly 10 percent of what the system demands, Miller said.

    Right now officials are trying to resolve the situation by hooking up a temporary pumping system to feed the Graham Mesa treatment plant.

    Miller encouraged residents to conserve water indoors as well as refraining from watering outside.

    “Everyone should curb their water use,” he said. “People need to take this seriously because it’s what delivers water to most of the city of Rifle.”

    Residents will be notified when the watering restrictions have been lifted, on the city’s website (http://www.rifleco.org) and via reverse 911 phone calls, Miller said.

    Elevated lead levels found in Berthoud water — The Fort Collins Coloradoan

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    About a year after tests revealed elevated levels of lead in the town of Berthoud’s drinking water, another round of tests revealed similar results.

    The town issued a notice to residents Wednesday that five of 40 samples recently tested for elevated lead levels. Town representatives did not immediately respond to a Coloradoan request for more information about the test results.

    Berthoud’s drinking water system has struggled to meet the regulatory standard for lead in drinking water since at least 2014, records obtained by the Coloradoan show. In 2014, the water system had levels double the federal standard of 15 parts of lead per billion parts of water.

    In 2015, another round of tests yielded the same result. The town’s water system serves about 5,400 people.

    The 15 parts per billion value is a regulatory standard, not a public health standard. [ed. emphasis mine] Lead exposure can cause serious damage to the brain and kidneys and is especially dangerous for infants, young children and pregnant women…

    Berthoud is far from the only Colorado community to struggle with elevated lead levels in its drinking water. Nineteen of Colorado’s 64 counties yielded at least one drinking water test result with 15 ppb or more of lead between 2012 and 2015. The water systems that met or exceeded the action level for lead during that time period serve about 295,000 people, or 5.5 percent of the state’s population.

    Berthoud’s elevated lead levels likely originated from lead in plumbing fixtures, according to a town press release. Town leaders are working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a corrosion control treatment program to implement soon, the release said.

    The town is also updating its material survey to ensure that drinking water samples are being taken at the sites with the highest risk — namely, homes built between 1982 and 1986, when plumbing often contained lead. The town is sending letters to about 260 homes that fit that criterion to see if they’d be interested in becoming part of the drinking water sampling pool.

    Per state regulations, Berthoud must collect 40 drinking water samples every six months and submit them for testing.

    Brass faucets, fittings and valves advertised as “lead-free” can contain up to 8 percent lead, the press release cautioned, advising Berthoud residents to opt for fixtures certified by the National Sanitation Foundation instead.

    Get the lead out

    The release from the town of Berthoud offers advice for residents worried about lead in their drinking water:

    1. Run your water to flush out lead. If it hasn’t been used for several hours, run the cold water tap until the temperature is noticeably colder.

    2. Always use cold water for drinking, cooking and preparing baby formula. Never cook with or drink water from the hot water tap and don’t use it to make baby formula.

    3. Boiling water won’t reduce lead.

    4. Periodically remove and clean the faucet’s strainer or aerator. While it’s removed, run the water to remove debris.

    5. Consider investing in a home water treatment device or alternative water source. When purchasing a water treatment device, make sure it is certified under Standard 53 by NSF International to remove lead. Contact NSF at 1-800-NSF-8010, or visit the Water Quality Association’s website at http://www.wqa.org.

    6. Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead. Brass faucets, fittings and valves, including those advertised as “lead- free,” may leach lead into drinking water. The NSF website at http://www.nsf.org has more information on lead-containing plumbing fixtures. You should use only lead-certified contractors.

    7. Have a licensed electrician check your wiring. If grounding wires from the electrical system are attached to your pipes, corrosion may be greater. Check with a licensed electrician or your local electric code to determine if your wiring can be grounded elsewhere. Don’t try to change the wiring yourself because improper grounding can cause electrical shock and fire hazards.

    8. Parents should consult with a medical professional for advice about whether to have their child’s blood tested for lead.

    Residents who want to be included in the town’s list of sampling sites can contact its water department at 970-532-2393. If your home isn’t a high-risk site but you would like to test your water, the town suggests these nearby labs:

    Colorado Analytical

    240 South Main Street, Brighton, Colorado

    303-659-2313

    ACCUTEST Laboratories

    4036 Youngfield Street, Wheat Ridge, Colorado

    303-426-6021

    Granby breaks ground on water plant — the Sky-Hi Daily News

    Granby via UncoverColorado.com
    Granby via UncoverColorado.com

    From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Lance Maggart):

    Granby’s long awaited water treatment plant broke ground this week. Officials from the Town, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and representatives of the various organizations that helped bring the project to fruition were on hand early Tuesday afternoon for the formal ground breaking ceremony…

    Plans to develop the new Granby Water Treatment Plant were sparked in 2013 when tests on water wells in the SSA, south of the Fraser River, indicated that one of the three wells the Town uses to supply water for the SSA was being contaminated by ground water. The well in question was shut off at that time and Granby began reviewing options for upgrading the Town’s SSA water supply. Options included drilling new wells and building a treatment plant.

    “In the end they (the Board of Trustees) determined the best choice for the immediate and long term for the water needs of the entire South Service Area would be to build a treatment facility,” said Granby Town Manager Wally Baird.

    The rough price tag for the new plant is $6 million. Granby has received a $2 million grant from DOLA to apply to the project and an additional $1 million from the SilverCreek Water and Sanitation District, which is served by the SSA. The Town is also putting in $1.5 million. The $1.5 million the Town is applying to the project is derived from funds Granby received from the Granby/SilverCreek Water and Wastewater Authority after the authority was dissolved last year.

    The Town is borrowing the remainder of the $6 million price tag, roughly $1.5 million, in the form of a direct loan. Baird explained the loan is analogous to a letter of credit and allows the Town to pay back only those funds which are spent on the project.

    Freeport-McMoRan, the company that operates the Henderson Mill and Mine Complex in Grand and Clear Creek Counties, also provided the Town of Granby with a $20,000 grant that was used to mobilize contractors early on during the project and get construction moving forward.

    Velocity Constructors is overseeing the project. The new water treatment plant will be contained within a single building, roughly 13,000 square feet, that will hold the treatment facility, offices for the SSA water operators and a garage area for equipment storage.

    Baird said workmen began unloading foundation forms this week at the job site and he expects concrete pouring to begin relatively soon, after fears of late spring freezes subside. Along with the physical construction of the treatment plant’s building workers will also be required to install pipelines from the SSA’s three wells to the plant and connect the entire system to outflow pipes that distribute water to the surrounding area.

    After construction is complete the well that was previously shut off due to contamination from ground water will be brought back online and its water will be filtered through the treatment plant. Officials expect the new water treatment plant to have a lifespan of 50 years or more.

    The Town’s water users in the SSA can expect to see a slight uptick in their water bills. Baird estimated residents of the SSA would see an increase of about $52 in fees over the course of the entire year, which goes to helping pay back the loan used to complete the project. The rate changes will only apply to the SSA and not the North Service Area (NSA), north of the Fraser River.

    The new plant will utilize a semi-permeable membrane to treat the well water that goes through the plant. The filter, which functions vaguely similar to a reverse osmosis system, utilizes the semi-permeable membrane to remove almost everything from the water besides water molecules.