Archive for October, 2015

How do you survive a horror film? Work at Denver Water.

Snakes, chainsaws and living in isolation are all part of running a water system. Some jobs are not for the faint of heart.

By Kim Unger

My absolute favorite day of the year is Halloween. I love the urban legends, the costumes and curling up on the couch in the dark watching my favorite horror films.

So, in the spirit of movies that make us scream, I rounded up some scary film selections that share an uncanny resemblance with some of the many jobs at Denver Water.

Think you can handle these spine-tingling careers?

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What keeps you up at night?

We asked water industry experts from around the country to share their customers’ concerns. Some sounded quite familiar.

By Steve Snyder

Call it taking the temperature of the room.

More than 1,000 water professionals turned out for the annual WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas, and there was plenty to talk about, from conservation and recycling to the latest innovations in water efficiency.

It’s a great time to hear about water issues in other parts of the country, share our own ideas and experiences, and learn new ways to better serve our customers.

To no one’s surprise, water managers in other cities had plenty to say — and more than a few issues keeping them up at night. Here’s a snapshot of those water challenges, based on some conversations with WaterSmart attendees in Las Vegas.

And while we were talking with them, we thought we’d get their perspective on our state as well. Specifically, we asked what came to mind when we mentioned water in Colorado.

Colorado water takes center stage in new documentary film

‘The Great Divide’ gets thumbs-up from Denver Water employees; coming soon to a school, library or DVD player near you.

By Jay Adams



“Whisky’s for drinkin’ and water’s for fightin’.”

While that familiar expression aptly embodies Colorado’s water history, the full story, of course, is as complicated as the laws that govern our use of water in the state. “The Great Divide” film documentary, released in late August, takes viewers on a trip through Colorado’s water history from early water claims to today’s complex demands.

We published our own review of the film in August, but recently got a chance to speak directly with Jim Havey, director and producer, about it.

“We wanted to take complex information to the public and bring it to them in a way they could understand,” Havey said. “When people understand where their water comes from, they are more likely to protect that resource.”

He hopes bringing this story to the general public will help raise awareness of the intricacies of water and lead to greater cooperation when it comes to tackling tough water issues in Colorado.

To quote our own film review, “A story about the history of water in Colorado wouldn’t be complete without also telling the story of Denver Water, the largest water provider in the state.”

So it’s appropriate that the documentary crew filmed at three Denver Water facilities: Foothills Treatment Plant, Cheesman Reservoir and Strontia Springs Dam.

“One of the most spectacular shots in the show is the Strontia Springs Dam spilling profusely in this high-water year,” Havey said.

Denver Water employees got a chance to watch the movie in October.

“I thought the movie was fascinating and packed with good information,” said Jasper Segal, contract specialist. “I thought it really laid out the challenges we’re going to see play out in the future.”

Randy Musick, water quality specialist, said the movie was filled with great information. “I really enjoyed it. I really don’t have a large background in water rights, so it was really interesting to hear that side of it,” he said.

“I feel what I do is important, and what Denver Water does is important, and I was reminded of that watching the film,” said Amy Ingram, contract specialist.

Damian Higham, recycled water specialist, said the movie is worth seeing for people in the water industry and the general public. “I thought it was great. It had a lot of information the public and [even] Denver Water employees probably don’t know about,” he said.

Havey is proud of the final product and is now on a 10-city statewide tour to promote the film. “I think everyone on our team really did some of their best work, and I think it shows during the film.”

The documentary has been distributed to 2,000 schools and libraries across Colorado, and special screenings are being held in 10 cities across the state. The movie is available for screenings, rental and purchase online.

Our party starts now

From mucky messes to bears in the road, see the scenes that sizzled (and drizzled) in our 2015 water year.

By Dana Strongin

One-fourth of your year may be left, but Denver Water’s 2016 has already begun. The water year calendar of October through September dictates much of our work, which cycles with the seasonal conditions that drive reservoir storage and water use.

It’ll be a while before your New Year’s Eve party, so feel free to join ours. Check out these photos to see some of the wonders and oddities that we saw in 2015’s water year.

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Do you know your hand-washing personality?

From speedster to perfectionist, preventing colds and flu begins with a proper scrubbing handwashing quick factsand the main ingredient: H20

By Kim Unger

October is upon us. Leaves are falling, the weather is cooling and flu season is just getting started. According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seasonal flu outbreaks can start as early as October and last through May — peaking between December and February.

Getting that annual flu vaccine is an important step in protecting yourself against the flu. But there’s another preventative measure that is simple to do and only requires soap, water and a good scrubbing.

“Washing your hands with soap and clean water — which is an easy task we can all do — reduces the bacteria on your hands by approximately 95 percent,” said Jessica Bedwell, occupational health nurse for Denver Water’s employee health clinic. The clinic performs annual physicals, provides health screenings and treats minor on-the-job injuries.

In honor of today’s Global Handwashing Day, here are some familiar workplace hand-washing personalities — and how much water they require.

What hand-washing personality type are you? Remember, you really need water to wash your hands effectively, but you can use only what you need.

(Click lower right-hand corner of videos for full-screen view.)


The naturalist prefers to accept nature
as it comes.

Lightning fast speed gets the speedster in
and out in no time.

Sings the “Happy Birthday” song like a pro.
Uses more water than needed.

Kills germs and saves water.

Back to Moffat Tunnel, eight decades later

Journey home honors father and the men who built engineering marvel through the Continental Divide

By Jay Adams



As a little girl, Gloria Ryan and her friends used to sneak inside the Moffat Tunnel and put their ears to the tracks, listening for an approaching train.

Eight decades later, at age 92, she was back at Moffat, only this time on the train, taking one final journey through the tunnel that her father helped to build in the 1920s.

Gloria at tunnel cropped

Gloria Ryan visits the Moffat Tunnel’s west portal in Winter Park in August.

In August, Ryan boarded Amtrak’s California Zephyr to complete her journey through the tunnel to its western portal in Winter Park, Colorado. At the tunnel entrance, she stepped out into the crisp mountain air and talked about her father, Paul Hansen, who brought his family to vacation nearby after the construction.

“I’m thinking of my father. I miss him every single day,” Ryan said. “I was always proud of him. I think of how special he was to me, and how proud he was to have worked on the tunnel.”

And for good reason. The 6.2-mile railroad tunnel is a critical transportation link in Colorado that crosses under the Continental Divide.

The mountain passageway was the vision of David Moffat, a Denver railroad pioneer, who saw the need for a safer, more efficient route between Denver and Salt Lake City. Moffat pushed his vision through the Colorado legislature and — with the help men like Paul Hansen — the tunnel was completed in 1928. Twenty-six men died during the construction.

Their work has stood the test of time. Passenger and freight trains still use the tunnel nearly 90 years later. “It really is an engineering marvel,” Ryan said.

Moffat Tunnel also is an important part of Denver Water’s story. A water tunnel runs parallel to the railroad tracks. It was the original shaft workers used to access the main tunnel and also served as an escape route during construction.

Denver Water acquired the original tunnel in the 1930s and turned it into the utility’s first trans-mountain water diversion structure. It delivers water from the Fraser and Williams Fork River basins under the Continental Divide and on to the Moffat Treatment Plant in Lakewood, Colorado.

Workers build the Moffat Tunnel in the 1920s.

Workers build the Moffat Tunnel in the 1920s.

“The tunnel was good for the entire country and good for Colorado,” Ryan said.

Paul Hansen was an electrical engineer when he worked on the tunnel project, but later became a lobbyist for Denver Water, fighting for safe and clean water, his daughter said.

Ryan got married in 1944 and had eight children with her husband. His career took them across the east coast and to Thailand. She now lives in Virginia. As she grew older, Ryan found herself yearning to come back to Colorado, to honor her father and to highlight the determination, ingenuity and sacrifice of the men who built a structure that she believes transformed the American West.

“I think children can see this and learn what man can do,” she said. “I hope they will see that engineering is a proud profession and we need to build things with dignity and respect for the environment.”

With her mission accomplished, Gloria was ready to head home. “This was my goal to go through the Moffat Tunnel one more time and I’ve done it,” she said. “I realized it’s either now or never, and I didn’t want it to be never, so I came, and I’m glad, very glad.”

When it comes to nature in Waterton, who wins? Da Bears!

While we wait for the canyon to reopen, Da Superfans remind us to be mindful of the wildlife.  

By Denver Water staff

Denver is headed to another loss this Sunday. Not on the football field, but with the seventh straight weekend without recreation in Waterton Canyon.

Fortunately, Broncos Sunday has helped lessen the blow over the past few weeks. But seriously, what’s with the delay?

With football on the mind, we’ve found some similarities to help describe the current situation.

Seeing a bear in the canyon isn’t new. In fact, one of the shelters in the canyon is aptly named “Black Bear Shelter.”

But, when there’s a bear cub tearing through the canyon like a linebacker on a blitz, it’s a game changer. Especially when you factor in that he’s under the watchful eye of his anxious mother.

And, as we know from the Campbell’s Chunky soup “Mama’s Boy” campaign, there is a special bond between a player and his mother that is best left undisturbed.

Rest assured, the canyon will reopen once the activity subsides. And we fully expect the gates to reopen before the bears of Waterton, and of Chicago, completely disappear for the season — which should happen sooner than later in both locations.

That’s why we’ve turned to an NFL Superfan duo — who know a thing or two about da bears — for some advice when encountering wildlife. And no, it doesn’t involve a selfie stick.

Under the river and through the woods

Denver Water tunnels under the South Platte River to install a new water pipe.

By Katie Knoll

Water main connecting the water distribution system across the South Platte River at Eighth Avenue.

The deteriorating water pipe, installed in the 1890s, connecting the water distribution system across the South Platte River at Eighth Avenue.


When the forefathers of Denver Water were installing our water distribution system in the 1890s, they ran into a problem: How can we get water to the people living on the other side of the South Platte River?

Their solution: Hang the pipe from a bridge. As technology advanced, Denver Water engineers improved on that approach, protecting the pipe with fiberglass insulation and a casing of asphalt paper (similar to the shingles on your roof) to protect it from freezing.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Those exposed pipes have seen their share of hard times, despite regular repairs and maintenance.

“Finger-sized” pinhole leaks. Discovered and repaired in 2013.

Finger-sized “pinhole” leaks. Discovered and repaired in 2013.

One pipe in particular, at West Eighth Avenue, was damaged and repaired after the 1965 South Platte River flood. But constant exposure to the elements has caused the pipe to steadily deteriorate: The asphalt casing has flaked off, causing corrosion, and several “pinhole” leaks (about the size of a finger) have recently appeared.

Our new solution: Thanks to advances in horizontal directional drilling technology, Denver Water can now make the formerly impossible task possible. We’re burying the pipe underneath the river.

“Exposed water mains aren’t ideal — their life expectancy is only 50 to 75 percent that of a buried main,” said Laura Dennis, Denver Water design engineer for the project. “Moving the pipe under the river was a great solution to protect it from the elements and extend its lifespan.”

To relocate the pipe, a specialized drilling crew tunneled beneath the river with a drill similar to those used in oil and gas drilling, injecting a mud-and-water mixture into the ground to help break it up as they moved along. In less than a week, they completed the hole.

Next, crews on the west side of the river fused together 650 feet of pipe lined up along the south side of West Barberry Place, then fed it through a 6-foot trench to connect the east and west sides of the river, connecting the water distribution system from Zuni Street to West Barberry Place.

And what about the old pipe? It’s still there, but we’ll get rid of it when the City of Denver completes its Eighth Avenue bridge replacement project in the next five or six years.

Denver Water’s field crew will head out to connect the new pipeline to the system this fall so it will be up and running by the end of the year. Dennis said the project serves as a model to repair and replace 30 other similarly exposed mains around the city. “This is a great way for us to increase the longevity of our infrastructure,” she said.

For a closer look at photos from the project, check out this short video:


Imagine there’s no water

I wonder if you can …

By Jimmy Luthye

The Value of Water Coalition calls for the public to Imagine a Day Without Water. Naturally, that got us imagining.

What if there was no coffee? Zzzzzz. What if we had to use milk to brush our teeth? Gross! What if we had to bathe ourselves like cats?!

Wait a minute.

As our veteran staffers brainstormed ways we might tell this story, something started to sound a bit too familiar.

After some research, we realized we were actually more than a decade early to this party.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure, we present the spectacular (and spectacularly underrated) Denver Water television advertising campaign of 2001.


Ad 1: Shower

Ad 2: Hydration

Ad 3: Lawn



The Imagine A Day Without Water campaign includes all sorts of events, social media engagement and other creative ideas all over the country. With that in mind, we decided to freshen up our own content with a remix of a 1971 classic. And by we, I mean I. And by remix, I mean a rough parody. Enjoy.



We are called to Imagine A Day Without Water because, as the campaign website tells us, water is “essential, invaluable and needs investment.”

Back here at Denver Water, we tried to imagine a day without water. First, we figured we might get the day off … but then we’d spend the day worrying and obsessing about where the water went. It’s what we do. After all, our 2001 campaign said it best – nothing replaces water.

May you never have to bathe yourself like a cat.

Water scores big for one Denver football team

George Washington High School football players say H2O is A-OK, better than sports drinks.

By Steve Snyder

George Washington High School requested water bottles for the football team because the players prefer drinking water to sports drinks.

George Washington High School’s football team requested water bottles because the players prefer drinking water to sports drinks.

When we got the call, we were happy to help — and not at all surprised.

The George Washington High School football coaches called us, looking for a donation of water bottles for the team. The main reason: Their players prefer drinking water instead of sports drinks.

Clearly the Denver Public Schools system is producing some outstanding scholar-athletes!

Of course, the core subject here is serious. Proper hydration for young athletes is critically important, and sports drinks can play a key, supplementary role. But given that water is our business, we are happy to hear when a team like the George Washington Patriots prefers our product to others on the market.

And that got us thinking about the ways that water is simply better than any sports drink. Here are a few:

Cost. This is the big one. If the GW football players drink 1,000 gallons of tap water this year, it would only cost the school about $3! Compare that to any name-brand sports drink. Just 1 gallon of a sports drink powder costs more than $2, while a gallon of sports drink concentrate costs $14. And you still have to add water to both! So for 1,000 gallons of the traditional, bottled, sports drink, you’re looking at about $4,000!!

The George Washington Patriots enjoy a water break during a timeout.

The George Washington Patriots enjoy a water break during a timeout.

Nutrition. This is pretty clear-cut, too. Water has zero calories, zero sugar and very low sodium. Sports drinks have more, particularly sugar.

Stickiness. If we are talking about football, getting a bucket of water dumped on you after a victory is much easier on your clothes, hair and skin than something like this.

Wagering. And speaking of sports drink baths, imagine how easy your friendly wager on the color of the winning Super Bowl coach’s post-game shower would be if water was the liquid of choice.

So drink up GW! Water is healthy, affordable and won’t stain your uniforms (although we hear it helps clean them pretty well).

And best of luck this season. Water can’t guarantee victory, but win or lose, we can guarantee you will look and feel better. Water is undefeated in that regard!

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