Water treatment operators are in high demand across #Colorado

Filter beds at a Denver Water treatment plant. Fluoride is added after filtration, prior to disinfection. Learn more about the treatment process: denverwater.org/WaterQuality/TreatmentProcess

From KOAA.com (Caiti Blase):

David Stanford, a water treatment operator in charge of Beulah’s water systems, says there’s a lot of opening in different parts of the state because older operators are retiring. However, between the years of training and sometimes small wages, replacing those people isn’t just a simple hire.

Russell Chambers, an operator in training, said, “There’s a lot to learn. It’s a pretty challenging job if you like a challenge.”

Chambers has been working at the water districts in Beulah for about four months and it’s just the beginning of his journey to get a Level B certification in order to become a qualified water treatment operator in the valley.

Stanford said, “It does take a lot of learning, a lot of certification, a lot of on the job training.”

The training can take several years.

Stanford said, “You have to know and understand every facet of how to get the water here, get it through the plant, and get it to the customer.”

Which is why it’s time to start training the next generation.

“In the state of Colorado the operators from the 70’s and 80’s, that team is retiring for the most part so there’s a lot of openings in many, many places for training operators.”

Stanford knows just how important this position is.

“I’m responsible for the lives of nearly 600 people that live in this valley. On a daily basis it is my responsibility to deliver to them drinking water that is safe to drink.”

Until Chambers is fully-certified, Stanford is “the guy that has to call the shots and is ultimately responsible for everything that happens with the water.”

It’s why bringing in and training newcomers is an important facet for towns like Beulah.

Eagle turns dirt on second water treatment plant

The water treatment process

From The Vail Daily (Randy Wyrick):

A groundbreaking ceremony saw the first shovels of dirt turned Tuesday, July 10. Excavation should continue through the summer, and concrete should follow in the fall.

Water is scheduled to begin flowing in the fall of 2020…

The town’s current and only water treatment plant runs at 90 percent capacity during peak demand, and some days it’s higher, said Brandy Reitter, Eagle town manager. The new plant will generate as much as 2.5 million gallons of water per day and can be expanded to 5 million gallons per day. It should fulfill the town’s projected growth needs for the next 20 years.

“The town must accommodate its existing users. We also want to accommodate new customers and growth. We cannot consider new development unless we have the water to serve,” Reitter said. “Now is the time. The demands have increased significantly and we cannot wait any longer.”

This new water plant will be on the Eagle River. The current plant is on Brush Creek and is the town’s only source of water.

The town has good water rights on the Eagle River, thanks to tireless work by former town manager Willy Powell, Reitter said.

Bryon McGinnis, Eagle’s public works director, said the second water plant will help the town preserve those hard-won water rights…

A second water plant is also a public safety issue, McGinnis said, pointing out the many wildfires burning around Western Colorado.

The Lake Christine fire near Basalt hit that town’s watershed and strained its system. However, Basalt has a system of wells near the Roaring Fork River, and that second water source kept the water flowing, McGinnis said.

The town of Eagle saved $10 million and used it as a down payment on the new plant.

“Development has, for many years, paid its own way. The town has collected and saved fees to help pay for this,” Reitter said.

The remaining cost will be covered by a low-interest, 20-year loan from a state revolving fund.

Broomfield-based MWH Constructors will build the plant.

#Drought news: The Town of Beulah’s water supply is in rough shape

This natural-color image was captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on October 17, 2016 at 19:50 UTC (1:50 pm MT). Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner with information from the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Image credit: NASA

From KOAA.com (Caiti Blase):

Extreme drought conditions, fire danger, and contaminated water in creeks: that’s the critical situation going on in the small town of Beulah.

On Tuesday, News 5 spoke with residents on how these conditions are impacting them. Gary Kyte, chair of Pine Drive Water District wants people in Beulah to know that the water flowing into their homes is safe. It’s coming from water tanks that have already been treated. However, people are under a critical usage policy because of just how dry it is. The town did get some rain last week, but all it did was make things worse.

Kyte said, “Evidently, that particular rain rained over the burn scar, the Junkins burn scar.”

It’s been almost two years, but Beulah is still feeling the effects of the 2016 Junkins Fire. Last week’s rain caused debris and ash from the burn scar to flow into creeks.

“We feel that it impacted our raw water intake.”

What the town needs now is another good rain, but not on the burn scar.

“It would flush or kind of scour out the creek bed and hopefully if it rains some more we could go back to treating water.”

Kyte says between the contamination and the low water levels in the creeks doing treatment right now wouldn’t be worth it.

“We’re entering into a critical drought state. We’re going to have to make water or we’re going to have to purchase water.”

The town is trying to hold on as long as possible by restricting water to residents. Households supplied by the Pine Drive Water District are allowed to use 60 gallons of water a day. Those using the Beulah Water Works District are allowed 80 gallons a day…

Kyte says he and the chair of the Beulah Water Works District have been speaking with Pueblo County’s emergency management staff. They are looking at various short and long-term options for assistance (such as hauling water) if conditions don’t improve.

#AnimasRiver: Truck hauling sludge from the Cement Creek water treatment plant crashes and spills into Cement Creek

From The Associated Press via The Colorado Springs Gazette:

The driver wasn’t severely injured, but about 9 cubic yards of waste sludge spilled into the creek.

The sludge is a byproduct of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency treatment plant that is cleaning up water draining from the inactive Gold King mine. The EPA has said the sludge is not hazardous.

Authorities say it doesn’t appear the truck spilled any fuel.

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.

Greeley: Bellvue Water Treatment Plant undergoes first major upgrade since 1947

The water treatment process

From The Greeley Tribune (Sara Knuth):

These days, the historic plant is in the process of changing. Greeley is building a new water treatment plant on the same property to replace water filtration systems, marking the first major change to the facility since 1947. The $25 million project will centralize water filtration processes that currently are spread out between two buildings, and with further expansion one day could give the plant the capability to treat 40 million gallons of water per day. The initial phase of the project is expected to be completed by mid-2019.

During the city’s annual summer water and sewer tour, a group of Greeley residents saw the past and into the future, learning about the extensive filtration, miles of pipeline that bring water from Bellvue to Greeley and the construction that will upgrade the system.

“We’re kind of turning the page on what the treatment plant will look like between yesterday and into the future,” said Burt Knight, Greeley’s water and sewer director.

CENTURY-OLD SYSTEM

For Mohr, the Bellvue plant is fascinating. Between breaking down the technical process associated with treating water at the plant and showing residents decades-old filters during the tour, he stopped a few times to express his awe for the plant, first envisioned by Greeley leaders at the turn of the century, back when the city had a population of 5,000.

In 1905, 97 percent of Greeley’s voters approved a ballot measure to build the plant at the mountain location — just west of Fort Collins — to bring the city water produced by Rocky Mountain snowmelt.

“The one thing I’m overly impressed with is we’ve got over 30 miles of pipeline from this facility to Greeley, and we don’t use pumps to move water from there to there,” Mohr said.

The 36-mile pipeline envisioned by Greeley water pioneer W.D. Farr brings water to the city’s storage facilities by gravity as it flows down from the mountains. Mohr said choosing Bellvue for the plant was a strategic part of the process.

“W.D. Farr over 100 years ago worked together with a number of other very smart people and said, ‘If we’re going to serve water to the residents of Greeley, this is a great place to do it,’ ” he said. “And it is, for a number of reasons.”

For one, Mohr said, Bellvue is still responsible for filtering most of Greeley’s water more than a century later. Though the Boyd Lake Water Treatment Plant in Loveland helps supplement the city’s production in the summer when residents use more water for lawns and plants, it runs only seasonally, leaving most of the work to Bellvue.

And in 2017, water produced at the plant won the American Water Works Association’s award for best tasting water in the nation, beating 33 other regional winners. It also won the competition’s People’s Choice Award, making Greeley the first city to win both awards in the contest’s 13-year history.

But even with the recognition and the plant’s long life, Mohr said Bellvue needs to be upgraded.

Greeley City Manager Roy Otto said for the city, the job is fairly commonplace. It’s important for the water and sewer department to constantly expand and upgrade its facilities, he said, and the Bellvue project is just one of several projects the city is working on to accomplish that goal.

At Bellvue, upgrades will replace equipment that has been in place for decades.

With water filters that have been in operation since the late 1940s and early ’50s, Mohr said, Bellvue’s current buildings are going to be obsolete soon.

“It’s been working very, very hard for a very long time,” he said, “and it’s kind of time for us to think about the future.”

NEXT PHASE

After the city won the American Water Works Association awards, Knight, the water and sewer director, said he called Bellvue’s Water Treatment Manager Andrew Kabot, jokingly, to suggest the city cancel the project because Greeley’s water was right where it needed to be.

“He assured me that was a bad idea,” Knight said during the tour.

The project, which broke ground in October, started after the water and sewer department found it would cost more to rehabilitate Bellvue’s vintage filters, placed there in 1948 and 1953, than it would to start from scratch to build a modern system. Mohr said the new technology will automate the filtration processes. City officials also plan to improve piping at the plant so water can enter the system more quickly.

At the current plant, the city brings water in through the system between two different buildings to complete the water treatment process.

Knight said when the new plant is completed those processes will be under the same roof. The city will maintain the plant’s old buildings, he said, and use them as gathering places for tour groups or meetings.

Before construction started, Knight said, the city decided to award the project to Fort Collins-based Hydro Construction as part of a construction manager risk contract, a form of a design-build contract. That means city officials will make decisions with the company as construction progresses.

“Our choice, predominantly, is investment in water treatment,” Knight said. “So we’ll have an attractive building, but it’s really about the equipment inside the building.”

Milliken scores $900,000 for water treatment improvements

Milliken Colorado. Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

The state shut down Milliken’s water plant in May 2014 following at least a year of warnings regarding the high-salinity brine water — a product of the town’s drinking water treatment process — the town was discharging into the river.

The town faced fines of up to $10,000 per day, which could have totaled in the millions of dollars, but the fine was reduced to $140,000.

Milliken officials have since spent $400,000 on engineering studies, which helped officials come up with a new process for treating the leftover water. It’s the same process mining companies use, involving a variety of filters to treat the brine water.

It’s a $2.9 million fix, and town officials announced Wednesday the town has received a $900,000 grant from the Department of Local Affairs.

The results, for Milliken, won’t be felt until December at the earliest, and it will put an end to an expensive alternative the town has employed for the past four years…

In the past, Milliken has treated about one-third of its residents’ drinking water, relying on Greeley and Central Weld County Water District for the rest.

The past four years have seen Milliken’s reliance on Greeley and Central Weld increase to make up for the town’s inability to treat its own water, Wiest said.

Wiest wasn’t sure how much more that setup cost Milliken, but he said the town has been paying more for water from the outside suppliers than it would have cost to treat its own.