@GreeleyWater wins 13th annual “Best of the Best” Tap Water Taste Test

Cache la Poudre River

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

Greeley ought to bottle this stuff.

The water in your tap — the stuff you pay pennies per gallon for — just earned recognition as the best tasting water in the United States.

This week, the American Water Works Association rated Greeley’s water the best tasting in the nation, as Greeley beat out 33 other regional winners. The city also became the first to win the national competition and People’s Choice Award at the organization’s annual conference in the 13-year history of the competition.

Greeley also is the first Colorado municipality to win the award.

And then there’s this: This was the first year Greeley has entered the contest.

“I was hopeful,” Greeley Water and Sewer Director Burt Knight said. “But I never expected to win both awards.”

Still, Knight said the awards didn’t tell him anything he didn’t already know.

“What it does is it confirms the choice our forefathers made when they went up to the mouth of the Poudre and built the treatment plant and pipeline in 1907,” Knight said. “I know we have high-quality water. All we needed to do is get everybody else to agree.”

Now that they have, Knight and others are pondering how, exactly, they’ll spike the football.

“It’s something we’ll need to think about leveraging,” City Manager Roy Otto said, adding the city has used its extensive water portfolio to attract businesses in the past. “But quality is something we need to spend time communicating to people — not only to residents, but others who might be coming to Greeley, as well.”

There are strict rules for the water competition. Greeley was sent special containers and coolers. Officials took water from one of the treatment plants and shipped it off to Philadelphia, where the annual convention was held.

Once there, contest officials remove any labels to ensure a blind taste test for judges.

To get there, Greeley had to win its regional competition last fall. And as a result of its national win this year, Greeley gets an automatic bid to the national competition next year.

Will the city enter?

“If you’re the Broncos, and you win the Super Bowl, you want to defend your title,” Knight said.

But that’s for next year. For now, Greeley officials are happy celebrating the victory.

Otto said he’s proud of the tradition and legacy of water in Greeley, saying the award is an affirmation of that.

W.D. Farr

“W.D. Farr has a big smile on his face in heaven right now,” Otto said, referencing the Greeley water pioneer.

After Farr died, Greeley bottled some of the town’s water, labeling it “Greeley Gold.” Otto still has a bottle.

“I would put Greeley’s water supply up against any bottled water across the country,” Otto said.

From The Denver Post (Tom McGhee):

Greeley, a city known for both agriculture and food processing businesses, can now boast it has the best tasting tap water in the United States and Canada.

The Greeley Water and Sewer Department won the 13th annual “Best of the Best” Tap Water Taste Test conducted by the American Water Works Association. Montpelier, Ohio, took second place and Bloomington, Minn., had the third-best tasting tap water.

Greeley represented the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works Association in the contest held in Philadelphia, Pa. The Rocky Mountain group includes water companies from cities in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, said Greg Baker, spokesman for the organization. It is the first time that any member of the Rocky Mountain association has won the contest, Baker said.

The event, composed of regional winners from water-tasting competitions across North America, was held at American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fifteen regions participated in the contest, including some in Canada and Puerto Rico.

Cache la Poudre River watershed via the NRCS

@CFWEwater — Barr Milton Urban Waters Tour

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I rode along with the Barr Lake and Milton Reservoir Watershed Association and the Colorado Foundation for Water Education on their Urban Waters Tour of the South Platte River last Wednesday. These rides are educational and fun and well worth the time. It was great to meet some new folks from the water community. Thanks to Amy Conklin for organizing the ride.

We started at Johnson Habitat Park where the Greenway Foundation has located their SPREE outdoor school. We learned about efforts to increase the volume of water in the river through the Chatfield Reallocation Project which will provide environmental flows through the City of Denver. Joe Shoemaker, Jr. explained the genesis of the Greenway Foundation and how the area we were in was one of Denver’s dumps during his youth. The educational effort was in full swing with young students plying the waters for macro-invertebrates and other life.

A representative from Trout Unlimited conveyed his excitement about landing big carp from the river. He also told us that a fisherman recently pulled a 24 inch rainbow from the river just upstream from the park.

Further downstream at Weir Gulch the focus was on widening the channel to more a more natural flood plain to help manage stormwater and improve river and riparian health. The South Platte through here, back in the day, was a braided, meandering stream with a flood plain that was sometimes as wide as a mile.

A Denver Parks representative explained the big project at Confluence Park — the replacement of the original structures from the first project in the South Platte revitalization effort. Kudos to the contractor that stayed with the project as their profit dried up due to the discovery of coal tar on site. The Denver representative said that the company believed in the project and the benefits to the community.

The last stop was at the site of Globeville Landing Park. There was a lot of construction going on to build an outfall for stormwater management. Denver is building their Platte to Park Hill Project to mitigate flooding caused by construction and development over the years.

I highly recommend these tours. You’ll learn a lot, get a bike ride in, and meet some interesting folks. The South Platte River through Denver is a great ride. What a success story.

@CFWEWater’s Southwest Basin Tour Next Week! Scholarship Opportunity and Optional Whitewater Rafting Add-On

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Click here for the inside skinny and to register.

From email from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education:

The itinerary for this year’s annual river basin tour in Colorado’s Southwest is full of exciting site visits and informative speakers!

We’ll be covering a wide range of local municipal, recreational, industrial, agricultural and ecological projects and priorities. This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

But hurry, the tour is next week and there are just eight seats left, including one scholarship spot!

Get on the bus for this year’s Southwest Basin Tour, hosted in Colorado’s beautiful San Juan mountains June 13-14. Share a unique educational experience with other tour participants, including the Colorado legislative Interim Water Resources Review Committee, and get an in-depth look at how the Southwest Basin Implementation Plan is being put into action in the San Miguel and Dolores watersheds. Review the draft agenda here, find some highlights below, and register now to reserve your spot.

On Day 1, we’ll make exciting stops at sites along the lower San Miguel watershed and part of the Dolores, hearing from agency reps, nonprofits, and civic leaders about topics such as:

  • Blending a local ag and recreational economy, and balancing the needs of multiple users
  • Using instream flow appropriations as a tool to protect Wild and Scenic Outstandingly Remarkable Values plus alternative Wild and Scenic stakeholder processes
  • Native fish restoration and the Dolores River Dialogue
  • A local municipal raw water project
  • Other Southwest Basin Implementation plan priorities
  • Plus tour the Paradox Salinity Unit and Indian Ridge Farm

On Day 2, we’ll concentrate on the upper San Miguel and explore topics including:

  • Ski industry concerns in the face of climate change and unpredictable snowpack
  • Regional cloud-seeding efforts to stimulate precipitation
  • Creative and collaborative municipal water management in conjunction with local mining and power supply
  • The evolution of watershed planning and incorporation of stream management plans
  • Plus tour the Valley Floor Project restoration site and view a special showing of the film that debuted at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival

BONUS: Participants now have the option to add on an optional whitewater rafting trip at the end of the tour and will receive a 40% discount off of normal rates. Find out more here.

*Interested in a scholarship? Email Jennie@yourwatercolorado.org to let us know what you do and why you need a scholarship to attend.

Newly identified chemicals in fire-fighting foam pose filtration challenge

Photo via USAF Air Combat Command

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

An Air Force-supplied filter being given to Fountain to strain out toxic chemicals from drinking water appears susceptible to a host of newly discovered compounds, a new study shows.

That type of device – called a granular activated carbon filter – wasn’t too effective at removing more than two dozen chemicals derived from a toxic firefighting foam used for decades at Peterson Air Force Base.

That means cities relying on those kinds of filters – in this case, Fountain – must replace them more often if they choose to account for the growing list of perfluorinated chemicals, some of which have only been discovered in the last year, said Christopher Higgins, a Colorado School of Mines researcher and the study’s author.

And that could mean higher costs for ratepayers.

“The carbon filters will work – you just have to change them more frequently,” Higgins said.

At issue is the danger posed by a military-grade firefighting foam that is suspected of fouling the Widefield aquifer – a key source of drinking water for the Security, Widefield and Fountain areas…

None of the area’s three largest districts still use untreated water from the aquifer.

But Higgins and other researchers across the nation have identified more than two dozen other similar chemicals derived from the firefighting foam – 13 of them in last six months.

And granular activated carbon filters are quickly overwhelmed by those other chemicals, according to Higgins’ study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

“This study basically is a way of confirming what we suspected,” Higgins said. “Which was that some of those compounds, if they get out into the environment, will likely come through carbon filters much more quickly than PFOA and PFOS do.”

The danger posed to residents by these additional chemicals remains unclear, said Jamie DeWitt, a toxicologist at East Carolina University. They include similar chemicals to those touted by the Air Force as safe for replacing its decades-old toxic foam.

“I think the first question anybody should ask is: ‘Are these truly safe for me to drink at these concentrations?’ ” DeWitt said. “And honestly, I don’t think anybody at this point can really answer that.”

After-hours calls by The Gazette to Peterson and Air Force Civil Engineer Center spokespeople were not returned.

Higgins’ study comes as Fountain leaders work to install two Air Force-supplied granular activated carbon filters this summer.

The research hasn’t changed those plans, said Curtis Mitchell, Fountain’s utilities director.

“We’ll certainly work with him (Higgins) on how long the filter run times will be, and just look at what his data is showing,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell downplayed concerns about moving forward with installation, because the Air Force’s filters can be easily substituted for a different type of treatment system – such as ion-exchange devices.

Widefield Water and Sanitation District recently became the first water district in the nation to use an ion-exchange system to treat water for perfluorinated compounds.

A six-month pilot program showed promise over the winter, and recent test results on the system after it began servicing houses in May showed no trace of six types of perfluorinated compounds, said Brandon Bernard, the Widefield district’s general manager.

“This stuff’s pretty effective,” Bernard said.

Higgins, however stopped short of endorsing such devices. They have yet to undergo the same tests as those Higgins just finished on granular activated carbon filters.

“I don’t know how well they work at removing all of these other chemicals,” he said.

Fountain voluntary watering restrictions start June 1, 2017

Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

Fountain leaders expect mandatory watering restrictions to be implemented later this summer, and they want residents to voluntarily begin conserving water Thursday.

The announcement comes as Fountain continues grappling with the presence of toxic chemicals in the Widefield aquifer – a key source of water for the community…

Fountain last pulled from the aquifer in October 2015 – a decision that dropped the city’s water capacity by about 20 percent. Since then, the city has relied more heavily on the Pueblo Reservoir and conserved water during hot summer months.

The chemicals, called perfluorinated compounds, have been used for decades in a firefighting foam at nearby Peterson Air Force Base, and for years were flushed into Colorado Springs’ sewer system and Fountain Creek. They have been linked to a host of ailments, including certain cancers, low birth weight and high cholesterol.

City officials have been working with Air Force officials to install granular-activated carbon filters on at least two wellheads. But that’s taken longer than expected, and multiple water district managers have lamented the Air Force’s response to the crisis.

Fountain’s first filter won’t likely be ready for use until July, and the second not until August, Mitchell said. As a result, the city may not be able to meet water usage demands on the hottest of summer days, Mitchell said.

City officials want residents to get in the habit of conserving water soon.

On Thursday, voluntary watering restrictions begin in the city and continue through Sept. 30…

Along with installing Air Force-supplied filters and asking residents to conserve water, city officials are upping their use of surface water from Pueblo and working with private contractors to design separate filters for other wellheads.

Mitchell also is working with Colorado Springs Utilities to create redundancies in its water system.

Stiffer penalties will accompany any mandatory watering restrictions implemented in Fountain. Residents will receive a warning for the first violation, a $50 fine for the second and a $100 fine for the third.

Security Water and Sanitation Districts also instituted voluntary watering restrictions.

The water district’s manager, Roy Heald, said he doesn’t expect to use the Widefield aquifer this year, because Security is paying a premium to Colorado Springs Utilities for more water from the Pueblo Reservoir.

Salida receives loan forgiveness from #Colorado

Salida water park

From The Mountain Mail (Brian McCabe):

Salida will receive $666,069.72 in loan forgiveness for its $1,505,000 loan from the [Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority] for the city’s ultraviolet disinfection compliance project, City Administrator Guy Patterson announced in the Tuesday city council meeting.

“The [CWRPDA] had a unique situation last year where a sizable amount of design and engineering grant money was not utilized,” Patterson wrote in a report to the council.

“The fact that Salida was the first community to execute the loan in 2017 and the disadvantaged community status made us eligible for disbursement of the funds, along with several other communities.”

“This is very fortunate for the community to be recognized like this and get the grants,” Mayor Jim LiVecchi said. “We were trying to do what we could to get this project paid for without having to raise water rates or spend taxpayer money.”

LiVecchi said the city also received $755,000 in an Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund grant from the Department of Local Affairs.

Emails from The Mountain Mail to Patterson, Public Works Director David Lady and Finance Director Jana Loomey about the project went unanswered.

The Mountain Mail asked city officials the following questions:

•The loan from the [CWRPDA] was for $1,505,000, the loan forgiveness was $666,069.72, leaving the remaining loan amount at $838,903.28, which knocks off about 44 percent of the loan. How much of this loan has been paid off thus far? Also, there was another loan listed for $120,000. Does that mean the total cost of the UV project was $1,625,000, or was it more?

•It was stated that because the loan was passed under an emergency measure to keep construction costs within a single fiscal year, the water and wastewater funds will lose their enterprise fund status for 2018. Does this still apply with the loan forgiveness taken into account?

•Patterson said in his report to council that Salida’s “disadvantaged community status” made the city eligible for the disbursement of the funds “along with several other communities.” What is “disadvantaged community status” and how did Salida qualify? Also, do we know which other communities received funds?

•What is the status of the UV project? Is it finished? If not, what is the basic timeline for completion?

Deputy City Clerk Christian Samora said Wednesday the city will send out a press release in the next day or two.

@GreeleyGov: Water & Sewer Annual Summer Tour, June 30, 2017


Click here to register and read about the event:

The Greeley Water & Sewer Board invites residents to this year’s facility tour to learn more about how water and sewer is treated, where the water comes from, and the various ways water is used. Residents will tour the Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) and Boyd Lake facilities and learn about system exchanges, points of diversion, and non-potable systems. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Those interested in attending should contact Ettie Arnold at 970-350-9812 before June 23. Space is limited.

Get more information about Greeley’s Water System at http://www.greeleygov.com/water.