Water district fights for relaxed quality standard — The Colorado Springs Gazette

Upper Black Squirrell Creek Designated Groundwater Basin
Upper Black Squirrell
Creek Designated Groundwater Basin

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Ryan Maye Handy):

For years, the Cherokee Metropolitan District has failed to meet one of its water quality standards, and the eastern El Paso County water district has proposed a change in state regulations to make it easier to meet that requirement.

The proposal has started an unorthodox process with the state’s Water Quality Control Commission to allow the district to have a higher level of dissolved solids – like salt – in its water. The change would only affect wells in the district, but the proposal has raised concerns from well-owners about the health of the system’s aquifer and prompted three stakeholder meetings before a rulemaking hearing in August.

The Upper Black Squirrel Creek aquifer has already been degraded by the number of wells that tap into it, well owners argue. Wells in the Cherokee district pull from an aquifer that is recharged with treated wastewater – water that, under a new requirement, would have more dissolved solids. If Cherokee fails to change regulations for its so-called “total dissolved solids” levels, it will have to spend tens of millions of dollars to meet current state requirements – a cost that will be borne by the district’s ratepayers.

The problems date back to 2010, when a new waste water treatment facility was completed without machines to treat water for total dissolved solids, known as TDS. At a Tuesday stakeholder meeting, the first in a series, Cherokee’s General Manager Sean Chambers described the consequences of this to a group of around 30 people.

“So whatever comes in the waste water plant in terms of total dissolved solids comes out the other end,” Chambers said. “Thus, we have a $30 million waste water plant that does not treat a lick of TDS.”

The district’s drinking water quality more than complies with state requirements for dissolved solids levels, but the levels in waste water pose problems. The water district typically measures 600 mg per liter of dissolved solids in its treated waste water, well over the state requirement of 400 mg per liter, said Chambers. Ever since the district opened its new facility in 2010, it has never been compliant with state standards for dissolved solids. By changing the level allowed in its water, the district hopes to save $10 million on costs over the next 20 years while it tries to become compliant.

On Tuesday, the district emphasized that dissolved solids in its water do not pose a public health risk, but only affect the water’s taste. Most water districts around the country adhere to the federal standard of 500 mg per liter of dissolved solids, except for Texas, which has its threshold set at 1,000 mg per liter, said Andrew Ross, with the state’s water control commission.

While the water district is aiming for compliance, well owners fear that more dissolved solids will continue to degrade the quality of the aquifer, said Jerod Farmer, a well owner who attended Tuesday’s meeting. Officials with the water quality control commission acknowledge that a higher presence of those solids in water can impact the aquifer’s quality.

Unlike surface water, which is regulated for quality at the federal level, groundwater quality is regulated on a state-by-state basis. Colorado’s groundwater regulations have remained relatively unchanged since the 1980s, when two regulatory structures were set up- one for statewide regulation, and another to grant individual exceptions to the state’s rules.

The Cherokee district is unique in Colorado – it has the largest facility in the state that dumps its waste water back into the groundwater. Its request to change the dissolved solids requirements in its waste water is equally unusual – the water quality commission rarely handles regulatory changes proposed by an outside agency, representatives said on Friday.

The public will get two more chances to learn about the proposed changes at stakeholder meetings on Feb. 11, time and location to be determined, and March 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., location to be determined. Both will help the commission gather as much public opinion and information as possible before the August hearing, said Lisa Carlson, who facilitated Tuesday’s meeting.

“The hope is that, when you get to the hearing, you will all be well educated and understand what the issues are in the process,” Carlson told the audience.

Durango Utilities Commission hears merits of fluoride in drinking water — The Durango Herald

Calcium fluoride
Calcium fluoride

From The Durango Herald (Mary Shinn):

For more than 50 years, the federal government has recommended adding fluoride to drinking water because it can prevent teeth demineralization.

The local effort to eliminate fluoride from drinking water has been lead by Jim Forleo, a chiropractor who said too much fluoride can have negative effects such as joint pain.

“They are giving us a drug without our consent,” he said.

However, the panel argued fluoridation helps strengthen teeth and lower the average number of cavities in adults and children.

“This is one of the most cost-effective prevention strategies you can develop,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s executive director and chief medical officer.

Community water fluoridation is a primary attack against cavities, and it promotes healthy teeth development, especially among children in poorer communities who have limited access to dental care, he said.

While many factors including diet contribute to cavities, the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water helps lower acidity in the mouth.

“It’s constantly bathing the teeth to counteract that demineralization,” said James Sutherland.

In the meeting, fluoride opponents, countered that while a certain amount of fluoride may be safe, shouldn’t the weight and medical condition of the person help determine the appropriate dose.

“At what point do we know what the dosage is?”asked Jane Burnier.

In April, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended lowering the dosage of fluoride because so many people are exposed to it in toothpaste and mouthwash.

The Utilities Commission will talk about how to structure the decision-making process in February. It could make a recommendation as early as March, Chairman John Ballew said. But the commission is not on a set timetable.

Once a recommendation is made, Durango City Council will have the final say because fluoridation is not required by any government agency.

“This is your decision to make,” Wolk said.

Whiting Oil & Gas Corp sells saltwater disposal and fresh water transportation and storage system in Weld County for $75 million

Deep injection well
Deep injection well

From the Denver Business Journal (Ben Miller):

Whiting Oil & Gas Corp., a unit of Denver-based Whiting Petroleum Corp., has sold its Redtail saltwater disposal and fresh water transportation and storage system in Weld County for $75 million.

Whiting sold the system to BNN Water Solutions, a unit of Tallgrass Energy Partners of Leawood, Kansas.

The water system consists of 148,000-acre system consists of 62 miles of pipeline along with associated fresh water ponds and disposal wells.

USBR: Reclamation Seeks Proposals for Water Treatment Research, Laboratory Studies and Pilot-Scale Projects for Desalination and Water Purification

Salt Works desalination process
Salt Works desalination process

Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

As part of an ongoing effort to further technological advances related to imbalances between water supply and demand, the Bureau of Reclamation announced today it will seek proposals for research, laboratory studies and pilot-scale projects that target increasing the usable supply of water in the United States as part of its Desalination and Water Purification Research Program. Today’s announcement occurred as private sector and governmental representatives attended a White House Roundtable on Water Innovation being led by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and other senior Administration officials. Participants at the roundtable are discussing how to plan, efficiently use and develop new clean water supplies to ensure our nation’s resilience to water supply shortages.

Reclamation will provide up to $150,000 for the research and laboratory studies. Between five and 15 projects are expected to receive funding. Studies must be completed within one year. All applicants are required to have a minimum of a 50 percent non-federal cost-share except for institutions of higher learning. Institutions of higher learning are encouraged to have some cost-share.

For pilot-scale projects, Reclamation will provide up to $200,000 per year, per project. The pilot-scale projects must be completed within two years. Between one and five projects are expected to receive funding. All applicants must provide at least 50 percent non-federal cost-share.

Individuals, higher education institutions, commercial or industrial organizations, private and public entities (including state and local), non-profit organizations, and Indian Tribal Governments are all eligible to apply for these funding opportunities.

The Desalination and Water Purification Research Program is helping Reclamation and its partners confront widening imbalances between supply and demand in basins throughout the Western United States through testing and development of new advanced water treatment technologies.

The DWPR Program focuses on three main goals: (1) augment the supply of usable water in the United States; (2) understand the environmental impacts of desalination and develop approaches to minimize these impacts relative to other water supply alternatives; (3) develop approaches to lower the financial costs of desalination so that it is an attractive option relative to other alternatives in locations where traditional sources of water are inadequate.

The funding opportunity announcements are available at http://www.grants.gov. For research and laboratory studies, search for announcement number R16-FOA-DO-009. For pilot scale studies, R16-FOA-DO-010. Phase one applications are due by 4 p.m. MST on Feb. 8, 2016. The phase two deadline is 4 p.m. MDT on April 27, 2016.

Visit Reclamation’s Desalination and Water Purification Research Program, please visit: http://www.usbr.gov/research/programs/desalination/ for more information.

Little Thompson water positive for lead — Loveland Reporter-Herald

Roman lead pipe -- Photo via the Science Museum
Roman lead pipe — Photo via the Science Museum

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

Customers within the Little Thompson Water District, including three local schools, have been notified of elevated levels of lead discovered during recent water testing.

The water district tested 16 taps from its customers in September, and one of those revealed enough lead that the district notified all customers of the result and precautions they can take to be safe. The levels were not high enough to violate drinking water standards or require additional action.

“The risk is on a house by house basis depending upon how much lead they have in their plumbing system,” explained Ken Lambrecht, operations manager for the district.

“It happens when the water sits in the home plumbing.”

Both the Little Thompson and the Central Weld Water Districts receive their water from the Carter Lake Filter Plant, so they test their samples together.

The districts submitted 33 total samples in September, 16 from Little Thompson and 17 from Weld. Of those, one Little Thompson site and 5 Weld sites tested above 15 micrograms per liter of lead, requiring them to notify all customers and offer education about lead. The Little Thompson reading was 21.7 micrograms per liter, while the highest in Weld was 31.9.

To lower lead levels, the districts have implemented a new procedure whereby a substance named poly-orthophosphate is added to the water, Lambrecht said. This coats the pipes so any lead within them cannot leach into the water and affect customers, he said…

Steps to reduce lead

The Little Thompson Water District offers the following advice for reducing the risk of lead exposure in water:

  • Flush out the system by running the cold water until it is noticeably colder if you haven’t had the water running for several hours. Save the water for plants or cleaning.
  • Always use cold water for drinking, cooking and preparing baby formula. (Note: Boiling water does not reduce lead.)
  • Periodically remove and clean the faucet’s strainer and aerator and run water to remove debris.
  • Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead.
  • Consider installing a water treatment device.
  • Have a licensed electrician check your home’s wiring because, if grounding wires are attached to pipes, the risk of corrosion may increase.
  • Rueter-Hess Water Purification Facility celebrates grand opening in Parker, CO — WaterWorld

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provided regulatory approval for the first-time use of ceramic membrane filters for a drinking water system in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Dewberry)
    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provided regulatory approval for the first-time use of ceramic membrane filters for a drinking water system in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Dewberry)

    From WaterWorld:

    On Wednesday, Oct. 21, the Rueter-Hess Water Purification Facility (RHWPF) — located in the town of Parker, Colo., southeast of Denver — officially celebrated the grand opening of tours for the facility.

    The water treatment plant, which serves a community of approximately 50,000 residents, uses new technologies that have enabled the Parker Water and Sanitation District (PWSD) to convert from rapidly declining groundwater sources to a renewable water supply, including surface water, groundwater, alluvial well water, and reclaimed wastewater.

    Designed by Dewberry, the RHWPF is the first plant in the world to incorporate a trio of cutting-edge technologies to meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water standards. The process includes three key stages:

    A coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation chamber using microsand to enhance particle sedimentation while reducing the chamber’s surface area requirements.

    A recirculating powdered activated carbon (PAC) chamber cutting costs by sending used PAC back through the system, increasing the amount of contact time between PAC particles and dissolved organic compounds for a more aggressive and efficient treatment.

    The treated water being pumped through ceramic membrane filters to remove remaining particles larger than 0.1 microns in size and any remaining microsand or PAC.

    In the first such application in a drinking water system in the U.S., the 600 ceramic membrane modules were specifically chosen for their ability to withstand impacts from the abrasive sand and PAC particles used in upstream processes and then be cleaned back to like-new condition. The ceramic membrane filtration system is anticipated to last much longer than conventional polymeric membranes.

    “The ceramic membranes are very durable and can withstand impacts from sand and powdered activated carbon, which is very abrasive,” said Alan Pratt, PE, Dewberry project manager for the design of the RHWPF. “The ceramic membranes can be cleaned back to a new condition, whereas polymeric membranes typically deteriorate over a life of six to 10 years and need to be replaced.”

    The completion of the 10-MGD RHWPF (expandable to 40 MGD) is part of a visionary, multi-phase plan for the water district, where district leaders had long recognized groundwater as a diminishing resource within the rapidly developing area. The new network features a 50-CFS pump station that brings surface water from nearby Cherry Creek and Cherry Creek alluvial wells into the 75,000-acre-foot Rueter-Hess Reservoir, completed in 2012.

    Water stored in the reservoir flows by gravity into the RHWPF. After moving through the two ballasted sedimentation chambers and the ceramic membrane filters, the disinfected water is pumped into the PWSD’s distribution piping network for use by customers. Wastewater is returned to nearby reclamation facilities and then to Cherry Creek for reuse.

    In addition to Dewberry, the project team included Western Summit Constructors, Inc. as the primary contractor, Garney-Weaver for construction management, and Kruger, Inc. for the ballasted sedimentation and ceramic membrane filter technologies. “The ability for us to turn many different water qualities into a high-quality potable water supply has been made possible only with the combined effort of many different companies coming together,” said PWSD District Manager Ron Redd. “Dewberry, Western Summit and Kruger have all worked very hard to make this plant a reality.”

    Fluoride will return to the Snowmass water supply — The Aspen Daily News

    Calcium fluoride
    Calcium fluoride

    From The Aspen Daily News (Madeleine Osberger):

    The Snowmass Village Water & Sanitation District Board voted in a split decision Wednesday to return fluoride to the community water system serving 3,400 users. Board members said their 3-2 vote responded to the will of the people, and to the threat of recall.

    “We can’t not pay attention to our customers,” said board president Joe Farrell, in reference to a non-binding survey of the district’s water users that showed 64 percent favor fluoride. “We can’t not pay attention to the medical and dental communities,” added Farrell, whose father and grandfather were both dentists.