South Adams County Water and Sanitation shuts down 3 wells citing PFC pollution

Typical water well

From 9News.com (Allison Sylte):

A news release about the contamination was distributed on Friday morning. This comes after the South Adams County Water and Sanitation District found perfluorinated compounds (commonly known as PFCs) in water samples from certain shallow groundwater wells. These chemicals are known to pose significant health risks if people are exposed to them – especially expectant mothers and young children.

Now, the Environmental Protection Agency, Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, and the Tri-County Health Department are working to find the source of the contamination.

However, health officials say the water distributed to the 50,000 customers in the South Adams County Water and Sanitation District is safe after three wells with the highest concentration of the PFC chemicals were shut down earlier this month. This means the district is taking 40 percent of its water supply from Denver rather than the usual 20 percent.

The concern now, according to South Adams County Water and Sanitation District Water Systems Manager Kipp Scott, are private wells and the people who use them – which is what prompted the advisory to the public in the first place.

“When we find something that is of a concern like this, we notify the health department,” Scott said. “The concern is, we are treating for that chemical here and removing it to levels below the health advisory, but the concern is with other people that maybe using wells that are not on our system and supplied water by our district.

Scott said some wells tested positive for PFCs in May. When that happened, they tested the treatment process – and results took five weeks to come back. Next came contact with the health department.

Brian Hlavacek, the director of environmental health at the Tri-County Health Department, issued a statement to 9NEWS that said:

“Tri-County Health Department is working closely with EPA, CDPHE and SACWSD to identify the extent and source of contamination. TCHD is working to identify private drinking water wells in the initial area of investigation in order to sample for PFC’s. Sampling could begin as early as next week as we identify any wells. Residents who receive their water from a private drinking water well, are near this area, and are concerned about PFC levels can call Tri-County Health Department at 303-288-6816 or email questions to ehwater@tchd.org.”

Open house: @OmahaUSACE presentation and open house subject = #SouthPlatte River through Denver Metro

From email from Zoeller Consulting (Hora Neureiter) via the City and County of Denver (Denver Urban Waterways):

The public is invited to learn about and provide feedback on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommendations for the South Platte River, Weir Gulch, and Harvard Gulch.

All meetings begin at 5:30 pm. There will be a presentation at 6:00 pm followed by an open house until 7:30 pm.

July 31, Weir Gulch Study – Barnum Recreation Center, 360 Hooker Street.

August 1, South Platte River Study – REI, 1416 Platte Street (3rd Floor).

August 2, Harvard Gulch Study – Porter Hospital, 2525 S. Downing Street (Grand Mesa Conference Room).

In 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the City and County of Denver began a feasibility study of three urban waterways in Denver. Previous rounds of public meetings were held in both 2015 and 2016. General study background and information on the previous public meetings is available for review at http://www.denvergov.org/denverwaterways.

The ecological health of the South Platte River has been adversely affected by encroaching urbanization and past flood control projects. The primary goal of the South Platte River recommendations is to develop a cost-effective, multi-pronged approach to river restoration that will restore ecosystem habitat, with secondary goals to improve water quality and reduce flood risk, where feasible.

Weir Gulch and Harvard Gulch have been primarily impacted by encroaching urbanization. For Weir Gulch, the primary goal is flood risk reduction, with a secondary goal of ecosystem restoration, where feasible. For Harvard Gulch, the primary goal is flood risk reduction through implementing nonstructural flood risk management measures to individual homes and businesses within the floodplain. On all three waterways, a complementary goal is to improve community access to recreational and environmental education opportunities.

The draft feasibility report and environmental impact statement and study recommendations will be released on July 2nd and will be available at:

http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Planning/Project-Reports/

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is partnering with the City and County of Denver, the Greenway Foundation, the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board to complete the study.

The Denver Urban Waterways Restoration Study is scheduled for completion in 2019. The study marks the beginning of a long-term partnership to secure funding, plan, design, and build the selected alternatives.

Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District hopes to act as agent for Water Supply Reserve Fund Proposal

Illustration shows water availability, in blue circles, compared with demand at various places along the South Platte River. The yellow area is the study area. (Illustration by Stantec).

From. The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

The Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District will submit a proposal to act as fiscal agent for the Water Supply Reserve Fund Proposal being drawn up by the South Platte Regional Opportunities Working Group. That decision came during Tuesday’s meeting of the district’s Executive Committee.

The $390,000 project, described in the nearly impenetrable technical language of water experts, is essentially the next step after the South Platte Storage Study, which was completed late last year.

The study, authorized by the Colorado General Assembly in House Bill 16-1256, looked at the stretch of the South Platte River between Kersey and the Nebraska state line in an attempt to find water storage to fill a crippling water gap that is just 12 years away. According to the 2015 Colorado Water Plan, by 2030 the need for water in Colorado will exceed supplies by 560,000 acre feet, or 182 billion gallons per year, and most of that is here in the South Platte River Basin.

Joe Frank, general manager of the LSPWCD, said the study is good at indicating what can or should be done to meet the growing water gap, but it says nothing about how to do it or by whom. And it’s the “by whom” part that needs to be addressed next, Frank said, because without an entity to fund an promote projects, nothing gets done.

Drawing pipelines and pumps is the easy part, for me, because I’m an engineer,” Frank said. “But we have to figure out who we are, and that’s the hard part. The institutional structure is what we still have to figure out, and that’s a big part of this (new project.)”

The new project first establishes a fiscal agent and project sponsors, initially SPROWG members, to prepare a funding proposal and a work plan. It’s that fiscal agent part that Frank asked his executive committee to consider. LSPWCD was the fiscal agent on the South Plate Storage Study; the job entails making sure funds are paid to the right people at the right time and are properly accounted for.

According to an Outline of Proposed Tasks, the next task – and the one Frank thinks will be most crucial – is to identify or create an organization to support “the development, operation, financing, ownership and governance of the South Platte Basin regional water development concept …”

Fort Collins folks lower per capita water consumption

US Drought Monitor June 25, 2002.

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Nick Coltrain):

As anyone who has watched as more and more cars stack up during the morning commute can attest, the population here keeps booming.

But if that’s the case, why is the city’s water use continuously going down?

Seriously. In 2000, the city of Fort Collins treated 31,594 acre-feet of water.

In 2017, the city treated three-fourths of that, or 23,512 acre-feet — despite an additional 15,400 people tapping into the city’s water. (Fort Collins Water serves the majority of businesses and residences in the city limits, but not all.)

[…]

People are paying attention and they’re asking about (water),” Fort Collins Water Conservation manager Liesel Hans said. “Are we going to be on restrictions this year? Is there enough water to go around? So I think people are more aware of it, for sure.”

Hans traces the awareness back to the multi-year drought that gripped Colorado and the West starting in 2001. People, presumably in an effort to save their lawns and otherwise stave of the heat, were using on average 200-plus gallons of water per day. It was also when water conservation messages starting sprouting up in Fort Collins and statewide.

Then, average gallon-per-capita use in Fort Collins started falling. In 2017, that measurement hit 141 gallons per capita per day, a 33 percent drop. Residential use dropped at an even greater clip: It went from 126 gallons of water per person per day to 73 — a 43 percent decline.

That put overall water use within the city’s goal of 2020 water use. That is a moving target, however. The city has since shifted to a 2030 goal of 130 gallons per capita per day and plans to make another goal change come 2022.

Three year Prewitt Reservoir project improves spring habitat conditions and hunting opportunities

Hunter in fog at Prewitt Reservoir via Colorado Open Lands

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate via The Fort Morgan Times:

Ducks Unlimited completed a three-year project on the Prewitt Reservoir State Wildlife Area in December, and officials are waiting to see whether the new concept works in the coming year.

Jason Roudebush, a water resource specialist with DU, briefed members of the South Platte Basin Roundtable on the project during the roundtable’s April meeting in Longmont on Tuesday.

Roudebush said DU installed a water-control structure on a marsh below the reservoir’s dam in 2016.

Last summer DU installed a series of terraces near the inlet to the reservoir. The terraces will allow Colorado Parks and Wildlife managers to control water levels and create more open water in the marsh, improving spring habitat conditions and hunting opportunities.

Jim Yahn, manager of the Prewitt, said after the presentation that the project doesn’t necessarily enhance the irrigation benefit of the reservoir, but it definitely improves the value as a recreation area. He said the Prewitt is now in a 25-year lease to the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife as a state recreation area.

“Any enhancement that we can make to make it a better recreation area, that makes it more valuable to Prewitt water users in the future,” he said. “And if we can get those improvements at no cost (to the reservoir company) then it makes it just that much more valuable for recreation and hunting.”

Yahn said the building of terraces in the reservoir is a new concept and it will take a season of irrigating to make sure the concept works.

“They’re underwater now, so we’ll see how they hold together after we start irrigating,” he said. “It seems like it will work, but it’s still new. If it works, it could be done in other places. It might not work everywhere, but it could be incorporated into any new reservoir that’s built.”

The project is in an area of the reservoir open to public hunting. According to Roudebush, the goal of the Prewitt project is to enhance more than 450 acres of habitat, including cattail-choked marshes below the reservoir’s dam and wetlands near its shore.

On the Ducks Unlimited web site, DU regional biologist Matt Reddy said the terracing helps put water where it’s most useful to wildlife.

“If you think of the reservoir as a big bath tub, you have to fill the bottom of the tub before the water can get up to the top where the best duck habitat is,” Reddy said. “We are putting the terraces in at the top of the reservoir so we don’t have to add as much water to flood habitat where wildlife can use it.”

The project is part of DU’s Prewitt Reservoir Partnership with a goal to restore all of the waterfowl habitats in reach of the reservoir. To date, the partnership has spent more than $1 million conserving nearly 5,000 acres of habitat associated with Prewitt. Partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the North American Wetlands Council, the Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Great Outdoors Colorado, Colorado Open Lands and the Prewitt Reservoir Company.

Colorado’s North Clear Creek & Tuthill

For 150 years, the North Clear Creek in Black Hawk, Colorado has been contaminated from historic mining. A new water treatment plant that came online in 2017 is removing 350lbs of heavy metals every day from the stream with the hopes of reestablishing a brown trout population. The facility uses Tuthill’s Blower Packages to aerate the water to remove the heavy metals more easily. Learn more about Tuthill’s products here: https://www.tuthillvacuumblower.com/i…

The facility was built and run by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Colorado Department of Transportation was integral to this project.