Water Treatment Providers and Conservationists Pushing for Clean Water


Here’s the release from the Colorado Environmental Coalition:

Several conservation groups and water treatment utilities filed early statements on Friday in the upcoming water quality rulemaking being held by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, slated for March of 2012. The rulemaking will focus on controlling high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous, pollution that impacts Colorado’s drinking water, whitewater recreation and waterways.

Colorado Environmental Coalition, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Colorado Trout Unlimited and High Country Citzens’ Alliance are gearing up in advance of the formal rulemaking to ensure that Colorado’s water remains of the highest quality. The groups are collaborating with some of the largest water treatment providers in Colorado to pass strong standards to protect our health, environment, and to help curb the cost of future upgrades to water treatment facilities.

“Colorado has an exciting opportunity to show our neighbors and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that we can protect our rivers and streams while minimizing costs to local communities. Our rivers really are the lifeblood of our communities and we must use this opportunity to ensure they remain clean, clear and safe for all uses,” said Becky Long with the Colorado Environmental Coalition.

Along with other states, Colorado has been directed to implement new standards by EPA. Pollution from nitrogen and phosphorus is the culprit behind “dead zones” like those in the Mississippi River Delta, resulting in massive fish die-offs. In Colorado, small communities have recently suffered drinking water scares, when chemicals needed to treat for these types of contaminants have made drinking water unsafe for human consumption. This past August the town of Hotchkiss, warned citizens to avoid the local tap water after a similar scare. Efforts to ensure the safety of local water supplies in Hotchkiss could take up to six months.

Many communities have been concerned with the potentially high costs of treating this type of contamination. As a result, the state agency and many water providers are proposing a ten-year phase-in period allowing for needed facility upgrades and reducing costs to customers.

The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District is also working to ensure Colorado’s rule is protective in order to head off additional federal regulations, which could be handed down if Colorado fails to pass a state rule.

“We believe the Water Quality Control Division’s proposal provides an opportunity for Colorado to make meaningful progress to reduce nutrients, protect small communities during these tough economic times, and put in place statewide monitoring to better understand the impacts of nutrients on a local, watershed basis,” said Barbara Biggs, Governmental Affairs Officer with the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District.

Water quality is also a major driver for recreation and tourism across Colorado. Murky water and slippery algae that can take over rivers and lakes does not enhance the post card image of Colorado’s environment. In recent years, the Water Quality Control Commission has had to implement standards for Grand Lake in order to control high concentrations of these same elements because of the impacts on water clarity and the fisheries in Colorado’s largest natural lake.

“My business really drops off when water quality is a concern. As Colorado’s population grows and human impacts contribute to water quality problems, we could face additional warnings and restrictions on the South Platte River. Our shop is only steps away from the river and we really rely on a safe river for our customers to recreate on,” said Jon Kahn, owner of Confluence Kayaks in Denver.

Statements were filed in Denver on Friday and the Water Quality Control Division will have until late January to respond.

Thanks to @beckylong for the link.

More water pollution coverage here and here.

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