Restoration involves thinking long-term for streams after #COflood

Production fluids leak into surface water September 2013 -- Photo/The Denver Post
Production fluids leak into surface water September 2013 — Photo/The Denver Post

From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

“Some wastewater plants were completely flooded, some systems lost treatment capabilities for a while and some lost large segments of sewer lines, but the plant is still operating,” said Steve Gunderson director of the water quality control division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Also, we’ve seen pictures of people whose septic systems were ripped out and we have had reports from three animal feeding operations that had impoundments, where the animal waste is stored, that were impacted,” Gunderson told me Tuesday.

The state knows that the wastewater plant serving Evans has a capacity to process 1.2 million gallons per day was completely flooded by the South Platte River, Gunderson said.

And while the state health department works to figure out what was affected and how, it’s also waiting for the floodwaters to recede to start a sampling program to figure out what contaminants ended up where, he said…

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has said that about 27,000 gallons of oil spilled into the water from storage tanks damaged by the flood. By comparison, the oil spills represent about 4 percent of the 660,000 gallons it takes to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The waste contained in the Evans plant alone would fill nearly two swimming pools…

The health department will start sampling programs as the water drops, but Gunderson said he believes — in the long run — that the flooded rivers will recover. “Water bodies have a way of cleaning themselves up, but we expect it will take time in some areas — the biology of the river has changed,” he said.

The rushing floodwaters probably killed some fish, but others survived and will replenish the stream, he said.

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