Archive for August, 2013

Your Denver Water video

With a water collection system that covers more than 4,000 square miles in eight counties in Colorado, it takes an extensive network of pipes, pump stations, treatment plants, people and more to make sure our customers can turn on the tap and enjoy fresh, clean water every day. Join us on this behind-the-scenes journey of Your Denver Water.

Official 2013 Use Even Less campaign video

Have you ever seen a conversation between two flowers after they’ve had too much (water) to drink? What about a toilet running across a field or joining an aerobics session?

If you live in the Denver metro area, there’s a good chance you have.

Since 2005, Denver Water has used fun and engaging tactics to get out an important message to use water efficiently. This evolved into the popular Use Only What You Need campaign, which has been integrated into the community through advertising and community interactions at local events.

But with the entire state in some form of drought, the message for 2013 is more serious, and the slogan morphed from Use Only What You Need to Use Even Less.

This short video highlights the official 2013 Use Even Less campaign, featuring the ever-popular running toilet.

Together, we can meet Colorado River challenges

Earlier this summer, Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead joined together with David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited, to write a guest commentary for The Denver Post.

Here are some highlights from the piece:

Beautiful Colorado (photo credit: iStock)

Beautiful Colorado (photo credit: iStock)

  • We’re trying to find a package of protections that keeps the river healthy while ensuring that Denver Water’s need for system reliability are met through the Moffat Firming Project.
  • Despite our differences, conservationists, local governments and water suppliers have found in recent years that we can work together to protect our shared interest in a healthy Colorado River — for water supply, agriculture, recreation, tourism, and the environment. We are moving into a new era of cooperation between parties that historically have been at odds with one another.
  • Together, our goal is a more sustainable future for Colorado. The fact is, for Colorado to prosper, the Colorado River needs to serve multiple needs and interests, from Front Range businesses to Western Slope agriculture and recreation — and do it in a future challenged by growing demands on a limited water supply.
  • Denver residents have done an excellent job reducing water use over the past 10 years, and that should be recognized. Denver residents are Colorado River stakeholders, as well. All users can help by remembering that much of the water we use in our homes and on our lawns comes from the Colorado River, and that by using our water wisely, we are making an investment in the health and future of our state.

Read the full article in The Denver Post: Together, we can meet Colorado River challenges

Denver Water lab project aids Guatemalans

By Ann Baker, Denver Water Communications and Marketing

Ian Babson, left, stands next to a colleague in Guatemala who helped test a new filter that could cheaply and easily clean drinking water for locals.

Ian Babson, left, stands next to a colleague in Guatemala who helped test a new filter that could cheaply and easily clean drinking water for locals.

In Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala, the water that flows from customers’ taps is often murkier and dirtier than Denver’s water before it’s treated.

But Denver Water’s doing something to help change that. Ian Babson, water quality specialist, recently traveled to Guatemala to help test a filter that could cheaply and easily clean drinking water for locals.

“It says something about Denver Water that it’s dedicated to clean water, not just here, but everywhere,” Babson said.

Since 2010, the Water Quality Lab has worked on a research project with Chris Schulz, an engineer with consulting firm CDM Smith in Denver, to develop a filter for Guatemalan company Ecofiltro that would be easier and cheaper to distribute around the community.

Right now, Ecofiltro uses a flower-pot shaped ceramic filter. But the clunky shape and fragile material makes distribution expensive, driving up the cost of the filter and making affordability difficult for the people in the poor rural community.

CDM Smith, Rice University and a Utah company, Ceramatec, developed a smaller disc-sized model that would solve the expensive distribution problem. But making the filter smaller required researchers to change the volume, pore size and coating material to ensure the filter retains its effectiveness.

Several staff members from the Water Quality Lab – pictured here surrounding the test filters – have worked on the project since 2010. Back row, left to right: Eric Abbott, Bruce Hale, Ryan Gregg, Zeke Campbell and Chris Schulz. Front row, left to right: Rhonda Birdnow and Ian Babson. Not pictured: Steve Lohman (retired), Maria Rose (Lab), Chris Crumley (now in Water Control), Roger Hausen (retired), Pranab Sharma (former employee) and Jim Hodge (retired).

Several staff members from the Water Quality Lab – pictured here surrounding the test filters – have worked on the project since 2010. Back row, left to right: Eric Abbott, Bruce Hale, Ryan Gregg, Zeke Campbell and Chris Schulz. Front row, left to right: Rhonda Birdnow and Ian Babson. Not pictured: Steve Lohman (retired), Maria Rose (Lab), Chris Crumley (now in Water Control), Roger Hausen (retired), Pranab Sharma (former employee) and Jim Hodge (retired).

That’s where Denver Water, with its advanced lab equipment and highly trained technicians, came in. The lab tested

several ceramic disc filters and selected eight of the highest-performing models to test in a two-week period in Guatemala. Babson, who has a research background in microbiology, worked on the lab tests and joined the scientists for a week in Guatemala.

His job was to set up the temporary lab, train a local scientist to run the test, and create experimental procedures to run the test. In doing so, researchers identified two filter prototypes that removed 99 percent of coliform bacteria.

The filters need more lab testing before they’ll be submitted for grant money for commercial development and production. But if the project succeeds, researchers hope to provide people in developing nations with filters that are affordable, easy to assemble and simple to use.

“If this works, a person could walk to a river with this filter in a bucket, fill it up, and by the time they carried it home, they’d have clean, filtered water,” Babson said. “That’s impressive.”

Denver Residents Pay Forest Service to Keep Their Water Clean

Great American Adaptation Road Trip

July 11-14, 2013

Denver, CO

As we stand at the Dillon Reservoir in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, we’re daunted by the expanse of water. Sailboats and speedboats zip back and forth, enjoying the summer season. At one end, the water is mostly contained by a high cement wall but for a steady stream slipping over the dam on its way to Denver. Abutting the reservoir is the White River National Forest, made up mostly of lodgepole pine trees. Some trees are laid barren by the pine beetle, some scarred by fire, some still healthy.

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A balanced approach

When you bring water from across the state and serve it to more than a million people in the Denver metro area, you’re bound to hear some differing opinions on how you operate. While the issues are endless, one, in particular, seems to be at the heart of the most passionate debates: the nexus of water conservation and new supply.

We hear from people who:

  • Love our Use Only What You Need and Use Even Less campaigns and share with us their water-saving tips.
  • Say water is too cheap and it should cost more because it is a valuable resource.
  • Say we should ban lawn watering.
  • Say we should have stricter water-use rules.

And, from people who:

  • Say water is too expensive and it should cost less because of the economics of supply and demand.
  • Are involved with Colorado’s multi-billion dollar landscape industry.
  • Say what they do with their lawns is none of our darn business.
  • Say we shouldn’t have any rules at all.

And it is our job to take into account the voices of these people – our customers, our neighbors on the West Slope, recreationists, environmentalists, public officials and everyone else we touch – and balance them with how we plan for the future. For Denver Water, securing water for the future means protecting our water supply, planning for the long term, evaluating changing conditions, working with customers on water use rules that are fair, working cooperatively to enhance the environment, and much more. When we look at the challenges we face – climate change, increasing regulations, aging infrastructure and more – we believe no one solution is the answer. That’s why our plan for the future includes conservation, recycled water and developing new supply.


Over time, treated water demand has decreased while population has increased.

So – how do we balance water conservation and new supply? Let’s take a look at the facts:

  • Denver Water serves 25 percent of Colorado’s population with just 2 percent of the state’s water.
  • Our customers do a great job of conserving water. For example, the average Denver Water residential customer uses 85 gallons of water each day, which is far ahead of the goal set by the environmental community to reach 90 gallons per person per day by 2020, known as “90 by 20.”
  • Since the early 1970s, the number of people we serve has increased by almost 50 percent while the amount of treated water they use has increased only 6 percent.

Right now, there is misinformation swirling about the Moffat Collection System Project – a project to help balance our system and ensure a reliable water supply for the future by enlarging an existing reservoir rather than building a new one. This project – to enlarge Gross Reservoir north of Boulder – was suggested by the environmental community in the late 1980s when they advised that we pursue conservation, increase recycled water and enlarge an existing reservoir (rather than build a new one) when meeting our customers’ water needs — and we’re trying to do just that.

Myth: While easing watering restrictions for customers, Denver Water is maximizing diversions from the Fraser River.

Fact: Diversions from the Fraser River this summer are far from the maximum, and we are honoring our commitments to provide flows to keep the river healthy. More important, if we had the Moffat Project (an enlarged Gross Reservoir) in place, we would not be diverting additional water in dry years. Instead, we would be providing 1,000 acre-feet more water for the Fraser River every year.

How is that possible? Through enhancements that are contingent on the Moffat Project, the project will provide many benefits to the West Slope, making the West Slope better with the Moffat Project than without it. In order to gain the support necessary to proceed with the Moffat Project, Denver Water took an unprecedented approach of negotiating with more than 40 entities in western Colorado, from the Continental Divide to the state line, including Grand and Summit counties.

Denver Water recognizes the interdependencies between the East and West slopes, and that the old way of water development in Colorado will be divisive and destructive to the environment and economy. As a result, Denver Water and the West Slope agreed on a simple yet powerful goal: To make the West Slope better with the Moffat Project than without it.


Leaders from Grand and Summit counties, Denver Water and the Clinton Ditch & Reservoir Co. — entities that for decades battled in court over water — stood with Gov. John Hickenlooper and signed the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, changing the way water is managed in Colorado.

The Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, the result of those negotiations, provides for an array of enhancements over and above the mitigation of impacts that will be required under state and federal environmental permitting processes for the Moffat Project. The agreement represents a more responsible way of water development in Colorado. It has been hailed as a model for the future in statewide inter-basin water discussions.

Denver Water’s Moffat Project would be a win-win for this state: It would make possible our ability to benefit the environment in dry years like this one, and it would bring additional water for our metro area, which we desperately need in times of drought.

Myth: Denver Water is not doing enough for conservation.

Fact: Denver Water has a longstanding, highly effective and nationally applauded water conservation program because we know the value of water in a dry region. Conservation is a critical part of our future water supply planning, and our innovations in encouraging wise water use are well-known throughout the country. A few highlights:

  • Denver Water’s current goal is for customers to cut their water use by 22 percent by the end of 2016. Today, we have nearly reached that goal, with our customers using 20 percent less than they did before the drought of 2002. We’ve committed to additional conservation savings through the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement.
  • Denver Water has conservation programs for every type of customer: residential, commercial and industrial. We also have rules prohibiting water waste, including a limit on the number of days and times customers can irrigate lawns or landscapes. Additionally, many other communities have adopted Denver Water’s plan as their own.
  • We have a tiered rate structure to encourage water conservation. The more you use, the more you pay.
  • Denver Water spends more than $5 million each year on customer water audits and incentives, such as retrofitting appliances, fixtures and irrigation systems with more efficient models, and more.

Denver Water does not have land use authority, and therefore issues related to development and municipal mandates on lawns are issues we cannot change on our own. We are, however, committed to advancing the discussion in this arena to make sure the inevitable increase in population results in smart growth.

Myth: Denver Water is supplying water to its customers at the expense of the West Slope.

Fact: As a major water provider in the West, we know we have a special responsibility to the environment. We take this responsibility very seriously, and incorporate into our future planning and daily operations. Some examples include: partnering with the U.S. Forest Service on the From Forests to Faucets program to reduce the likely hood of catastrophic fire in the forest/urban interface; partnering with Grand County and others on a sediment trap to capture the traction sand entering the Fraser River; our leadership in the South Platte Protection Plan; and being an active member of the Wild and Scenic River program on the Colorado River.

We care about the environment. It is an ethic and value that runs deep in our organization. We know our infrastructure is not just our pipes and reservoirs — it is also millions of acres of Colorado forests and thousands of miles of rivers and streams. Water is essential to making Colorado beautiful and to ensuring the quality of life we enjoy. Yet we know it is scarce in our state, and demands for it are intensifying.

With that understanding, Denver Water’s highest responsibility remains to serve 1.3 million people today and a growing population in the future. We strive to do so while minimizing our environmental footprint and working collaboratively with our neighbors to protect and enhance supplies for agriculture, riparian habitat, stream health and many other needs.

Antero Dam rehabilitation project

Antero Reservoir, June 2009

Antero Reservoir, June 2009

From news release:

Antero Dam rehabilitation project

Necessary engineering work will not impact recreation at the reservoir

HARTSEL, Colo. — Aug. 12, 2013 — A project to bring Antero Dam in line with current engineering standards will begin Monday, Aug. 19. The $14 million undertaking will ensure the safety and functionality of the dam for another 100 years.

Denver Water, in coordination with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Office of the State Engineer, lowered Antero Reservoir by 2 feet in May 2011 as a safety precaution to reduce water pressure and seepage within the dam. The reservoir has been operating at a height of 16–17 feet since that time. Antero Dam was built in 1909 by Canfield and Shields of Greeley, and purchased by Denver Water in 1924. The dam has experienced substantial seepage since it was built and as a result, has been operating under reservoir storage restrictions by the state since the early 1900s to ensure public safety.

The rehabilitation project will be done in phases. The first phase, which begins Aug. 19, is scheduled for completion by late November 2013. During this phase, Denver Water’s contractor, Geo-Solutions, Inc., will build a sand trench to filter the normal seepage from the dam to help ensure the safety of the foundation.

Denver Water will keep the popular reservoir open to recreation, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife will continue to manage the fishery during the project. The construction will take place on the east side of the dam, which will not be accessible to the public. There will be an increase in truck traffic along Highway 9 and Highway 24 at various times during phase one as sand is brought in to complete the filter trench. Trucks will enter the site through an access road on the south side of the dam.

The subsequent phases of the project are embankment grading from May 2014 through November 2014, and spillway and valve improvements May 2015 through November 2015.

When all three phases are complete, the water levels at Antero will return to and be maintained at a level of 18 feet, which is expected to occur after spring runoff in April 2016.

Wildlife questions regarding fishing at Antero can be directed to Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-291-7227.


Water, the single most important resource in the world, connects every community, big or small. To provide a first-hand glance into the world behind the faucet, “Connected Colorado” has a new episode that highlights how cities and water utilities manage their own unique challenges to achieve the same goal of providing a safe, clean water supply to their respective communities.

In the segment, Denver Water CEO/Manager Jim Lochhead is part of a panel discussion with Mark Koleber, water supply director for Thornton, and Richard Leffler, engineering and utilities director for the Town of Frederick. Each panel member brings his own perspective to the discussion on the importance of conservation, water quality and ensuring water supply for the future.

“Connected Colorado” is a locally produced Channel 8 program that will air across the state through August and September. Here is the program guide for airtimes in Denver.

Check out the segment below or on YouTube.

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