From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
A debate over water quality on Fountain Creek in Pueblo County bubbled over into last week’s meeting of a district formed to improve Fountain Creek.
Pueblo Wastewater Director Gene Michael told the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District that studies by the city show no clear link between increased development and increased amounts of selenium in the water supply.
He said information from some city studies was misinterpreted at a recent function of the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum and he wanted to clear the air for the Fountain Creek district.
“There’s no way to measure what the selenium was 100 years ago,” Michael said. He explained there simply was no technology to measure parts per billion at the time. “The levels in 1981, when it was first measured, were higher than today.”
Selenium is known to accumulate in the Pueblo area because of water flowing over the Pierre shale formations.
The arguments are crucial to a case Pueblo is trying to make with the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission that it should have a specific discharge variance. An April hearing on the issue was postponed.
Pueblo maintains that it removes some selenium from groundwater intercepted in its treatment plant under a temporary modification. The ambient concentration of selenium in Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River near Pueblo is more than three times the EPA’s numeric standard, 4.6 parts per billion, he said.
The discussion touched a political nerve with the Pueblo city and county representatives on the Fountain Creek board.
“This is an interesting discussion to have with the Water Quality Commission,” said County Commissioner Terry Hart. The commissioners have supported a numeric standard on Fountain Creek, largely because of dealings with Colorado Springs Utilities for increased releases related to the Southern Delivery System. “My feeling is that we study it, find out where it is coming from and take it out.”
“It’s important to discuss it,” said City Councilman Dennis Flores, who invited Michael to speak at Friday’s meeting. He noted that the Pueblo Area Council of Governments supported the city of Pueblo 9-2, with two county commissioners in opposition. “I feel strongly about this and think it’s important.”
More Fountain Creek watershed coverage here.