Archive for the ‘Water education’ Category

Lessons from a former Kool-Aid kid

Why drinking water between meals is a better alternative to the sugary drinks of yesterday — and today.

By Jessica Mahaffey

I was a Kool-Aid kid.

The sweet drink fueled my summertime adventures in Waterton Canyon. I remember whipping up my cousin Matt’s favorite flavor (orange) instead of my favorite (grape) because my mom insisted I be polite to guests.

But oh, how times have changed. Today’s parents are replacing pitchers of Kool-Aid with seemingly healthier options like milk, sports drinks and fruit juices.

But these “healthy” drinks can have surprisingly large amounts of sugar, a point powerfully illustrated in Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation’s Cavities Get Around campaign about the link between what kids are drinking and childhood tooth decay.



What’s the big deal about sugar? Dental health experts say sugar fuels cavities and impacts oral health. According to the foundation, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting more than 40 percent of kindergartners in Colorado. More than half of all children in our state will experience tooth decay by the third grade. Children in Hispanic and low-income communities — where there is mistrust of tap water — are disproportionately impacted.

“Poor oral health can set children up for a lifelong struggle,” said Wyatt Hornsby, campaign director at Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. “It’s hard to form words, focus in school, sleep and play when you’re in pain. That’s why we’re focusing on one of the root causes of tooth decay in kids: sugar.”

How much sugar is in these drinks? More than you might think.


Beverage Serving Size (ounces) Sugar (teaspoons) Sugar (grams)
Kool-Aid 8 oz 4.4 tsp 22g
Orange Juice 8 oz 6.6 tsp 33g
Apple Juice Box 6.8 oz 4.2 tsp 21g
Grape Juice 8 oz 7.2 tsp 36g
Gatorade 8 oz 4.2 tsp 21g
Chocolate Milk 8 oz 4.8 tsp 24g


So what does this have to do with us? Water, of course.

Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation encourages parents to limit sugary drinks at home and school and serve only water between meals and at bedtime.

“Our research has shown that juices and sugary drinks are major sources of sugar for many children,” said Hornsby.  “Water, on the other hand, helps protect a child’s teeth from decay when it’s from the tap and contains fluoride.”

Consider this Kool-Aid kid reformed.

A family stops at the water trailer this summer to enjoy a cup of Denver Water. “I love water because it keeps me healthy and happy” (left). “I value water because it makes me strong” (right).


A perfect time to rethink your yard. (That would be now)

Changing seasons, changing landscapes: How one Denver resident turned her yard into a water-efficient urban oasis.

By Jay Adams



The unseasonably warm weather this fall is great for hiking, playing in the park and puttering around the yard. As you’re raking your leaves or putting your garden to bed, take a moment to reflect on how your landscape looked this past summer.

Were there brown spots of grass? Could your kids have used more shade? Did you need more patio space?

“Fall is a great time to rethink your landscape,” said Mark Cassalia, Denver Water conservation specialist. “Walk your property, think about what you’d really like, and start planning for spring.”

Park Hill resident Amy Wright agrees. A firm believer in landscape planning, she designed her own water-efficient yard.

The plants in Amy Wright's yard attract a variety of butterflies, birds and bees.

The plants in Amy Wright’s yard attract a variety of butterflies, birds and bees.

“We had two kids grow up here, and we found the grass was rarely used,” Wright said. “So we started planning and changed our yard into a landscape full of color, shade and natural beauty.”

Wright’s yard features butterflies, ornamental grasses, bushes, flowers, trees and a cactus area.

“We found that by changing our landscape, we opened up our yard for all kinds of fun and creative things,” she said. “Most people find it hard to believe we hardly use any water on the landscape.”

Amy’s landscape uses about 90 percent less water compared to a yard of the same size that’s mostly grass.

“Amy’s garden landscape may not work for everyone, but it demonstrates how homeowners can redesign their yards to custom-fit their family’s needs and save water at the same time,” Cassalia said.

The 2002 drought changed attitudes about landscapes across Colorado, leading nurseries and garden centers to fill their aisles with more diverse options.

Now that the landscape has been established, Wright's landscape requires almost no watering.

Now that the landscape has been established, Wright’s landscape requires almost no watering.

“The increase in variety of plants available has allowed homeowners to create beautiful landscapes that work in our semi-arid climate,” Cassalia said. “The turf industry has also developed more low-water alternatives that look like bluegrass, but are much more water-efficient.”

Wright encourages anyone considering changing their landscape to read books and attend classes to get ideas for creating a water-saving yard they will enjoy.

“We get to enjoy nature all year long,” Wright said. “It feels great knowing we’re saving water, and we still have a great place to live.”

No water, no Great American Beer Festival

Love a big stout or a tasty IPA? Every step of the brewing process requires one essential ingredient.

American Water Works Association reminds beer lovers of the importance of water with every sip.

American Water Works Association reminds beer lovers of the importance of water with every sip.

By Travis Thompson

Tickets sold out in just over an hour for 60,000 beer connoisseurs who will flood the Colorado Convention Center this weekend to taste some really good water.

You read that right. Water.

Since beer is 90 percent H2O, Great American Beer Festival participants will taste more than 3,500 samples of that familiar clear liquid, with a hoppy twist.

If you attend the festival, you’ll learn quite a bit about the brewing process. But if you can’t make it, we created our own version, highlighting, of course, the value of water:

Step 1: Beer needs barley. And barley needs water.

According to North Dakota State University’s Department of Plant Pathology, the average American drinking 20 gallons of beer per year consumes about 21 pounds of barley. Barley requires 15 to 17 inches of water for optimal crop production.

The brewing process begins by soaking malted barley in hot water.  


Step 2: Hops won’t hop without water.

During an average growing season, a hop field requires 20 to 30 inches of water. The amount of hops used in brewing depends on the type of beer you’re making. For a baseline, I turned to The Mad Fermentationist for an IPA (my personal favorite) recipe that uses 1 pound of hops for a 5.5-gallon batch.

Boil the malt with hops for seasoning.


Step 3: Water keeps it clean, so yeast can do its thing.

Sanitation is vital throughout the entire brewing process, and that of course requires water. But having a sterile environment for yeast to begin fermentation is “doubly important,” writes Chris Colby in a Beer & Wine Journal article.

Cool the solution and add yeast to begin fermentation.


Step 4: Water makes the cans, and cans hold the beer.

For starters, water is vital in the production process of making beer cans. And “the lining in cans is a water-based polymer that doesn’t interact with beer,” writes Jeff Wharton about the craft beer cans vs. bottles debate on

Bottle (or can) the beer with a little bit of sugar to provide carbonation.


For beer lovers, the Great American Beer Festival is a dream come true, with more than 750 breweries pouring their favorites, from amber ales to stouts and flavored specialty beers.

Just remember, as our friends at American Water Works Association like to say: No water, no beer.

Scary thought, huh?


Stay hydrated, Denver. We’ll be there to help.

This summer, our water trailer delivered thousands of gallons of refreshing H2O to more than 20 community events.

Denver Water employees set up a hose with a nozzle to mist hot fans with water at the NFL Kickoff event in Civic Center Park, which was a hit, especially with kids.

Denver Water employees set up a hose with a nozzle to mist hot fans with water at the NFL Kickoff event in Civic Center Park, which was a hit, especially with kids.

By Travis Thompson

One of my most cherished childhood memories is standing along the river banks with my grandpa, eagerly waiting to hook “the big one.” Baked by the hot sun bouncing off the water, we spent many of those days sitting in the shade, telling jokes and rehydrating.

My thermos was filled with water, grandpas with milk. Yes, milk.

While he had a hankering for milk, I think most of us would agree with Anchorman Ron Burgundy when he proclaimed, “milk was a bad choice,” on a hot day.

One thing we should all agree on, however, is that fluids are a must when the temperature rises.

Last week, Time magazine highlighted the importance of hydration in an article, “Why Hillary Clinton (And You) Should Be Drinking Water Regularly,” citing that Clinton doesn’t regularly drink water.

Turns out most Americans don’t either. Many of us become dehydrated “by not drinking enough fluid — usually water — to replace what you lose.” And while that may seem obvious, the story cites a 2013 study that found 75 percent of Americans may be dehydrated and highlights the factors that play into dehydration, such as climate and physical exercise — especially in the heat.

Denver Water’s water trailer was debuted during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, when it was used to hydrate convention goers at various events, including one at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, pictured here.

Denver Water’s water trailer first appeared during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, when it was used to hydrate convention goers at various events, including one at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, pictured here.

So you can imagine why Denver Health and other emergency responders were concerned about the conditions for the NFL Kickoff event at Civic Center Park on Sept. 8. With temperatures projected to be in the 90s and thousands of fans packing into the park for the highly anticipated live performances by Dierks Bentley and OneRepublic, the City of Denver called on Denver Water for assistance.

It’s a good thing they did. We needed every drop from our 200-gallon water trailer, as well as countless refills of 5-gallon water jugs scattered around the park, where we served more than 6,000 cups of cold water and filled hundreds of water bottles for hot and thirsty attendees.

But this isn’t the first, or last time Denver Water was on hand with refreshing H2O to help our community celebrate safely. With about 15 events each year — and more than 20 this summer — Denver Water has been bringing its 19-foot water trailer to events since its debut at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

The trailer is a great way to keep Denver hydrated while throwing in a little education about our most precious resource, explained Tyler St. John, Denver Water’s summer marketing coordinator, in his story, “Life in the water trailer.”

“The best part is, we’re able to do it in a meaningful way, by helping to ensure festival-goers are safe from the exhaustion of spending the day in the heat,” said St. John.

As the dog days of summer transition to the chill of early fall, the water trailer is down to its last few events. But we’ll be back at it next summer, among the tents and booths at the many Denver-area festivals.

Even if you take a page out of my grandpa’s book and bring your own milk for refreshment, stop on by the trailer — we’ll toast to hydration with you.



Rain drops keep falling in my barrel

Legalization of rain barrels saves water while teaching us how to operate our own water systems.

By Jimmy Luthye and Jamie Reddig

In case you haven’t heard, rain barrels are now legal in Colorado. As of Aug. 10, 2016, Coloradans can use up to two 55-gallon rain barrels per household.

Now, rain barrels certainly won’t solve everything when it comes to Colorado’s water supply gap. They simply can’t store enough water to make a huge difference. But every drop counts in a geographic area with a climate as unpredictable as Colorado’s.

And just as important as the water saved is the education rain barrels provide. Indeed, using rain barrels equates in many ways to managing and operating your very own, fun-sized water system, complete with rooftop watersheds, downspout rivers and tunnels, barrels-turned-reservoirs and garden hose pipelines.

Check out our infographic to illustrate the metaphor and show how you can learn to manage a water system of your own. And for even more information about how to get started, the Colorado Division of Water Resources has you covered.

Now all we need is some more rain!



Are millennials less aware than everyone else about water?

Maybe not, according to our very unscientific poll. But like many of us, a little more education wouldn’t hurt.

By Tyler St. John and Dave Gaylinn


As a member of the much-maligned millennial generation, I took it a bit personally when a recent state-wide water quality survey suggested that 20-somethings lack a firm understanding of water issues in Colorado.

I’m very conscious of the ire my generation seems to draw from the rest of the populace on a host of issues, not just water. We’re too self-absorbed, people say. Too concerned with views to our Twitter and Instagram accounts.

I personally think that’s absurd, so I happily took on my toughest assignment to date at Denver Water: Hit the streets, find some millennials and ask them some basic questions about water.

And pray they came through for me.

This was hardly scientific; I couldn’t disprove the research results, which found that, compared to other age groups, millennials were more likely to be unsure about the source of their tap water and most likely to say it came from the faucet, bottle or store.

But at least I could see whether a selection of random millennials off the street might rise above those conclusions.

First, some good news: Like many health-conscious Coloradans, the millennials I spoke with took their water consumption seriously and said they drank plenty of water every day.

They also said that Colorado had some of the best tasting water in the country, adding that they trusted the source of all that clean, clear goodness.

Then, we ran into some trouble.

When I asked, “Where does our water come from?” my fellow millennials looked at me as if I were asking a trick question.


The author explains the journey of water, from mountain snowpack, to rivers and streams, to reservoirs, to treatment plants, to tap.

If you work at Denver Water, as I do, then you know our source water originates as snowpack in the Rocky Mountains, flows into the rivers and streams that feed our mountain reservoirs, and then on to our water treatment plants and from there, delivered to your tap.

But would a random millennial on the street know this? When all the water you use is coming out of a faucet, you have to work a little bit to find out how it gets there in the first place.

Unfortunately, one young lady answered that the water just came out of the faucet, period. But others were on the right track.

Finally, I wanted to feel out my age group on conservation, and those answers varied greatly. Everyone was certainly aware that it’s better to conserve than to waste, but not everyone thinks about it as much as they should.

There was no right or wrong answer to this question — except for the guy who said he rode his bike a lot — but the general consensus was that we all need to take steps to get the most out of our water supply and conserve.

All in all, not a bad showing from my peers. Despite a few hiccups, millennials on the streets of Denver certainly are not as unaware about water as the research might suggest.

If anything, it just proves we can all stand to learn more about water.

Life in the water trailer

Our summer temp is new to Denver, and he’s learning a lot about water — from you.  

By Tyler St. John

Colorado grew by 100,000 people last year. I was one of them. And, yes, I’m a millennial.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Colorado population grew just over 100,000 from 2014 to 2015. Denver photo courtesy of Michael Levine-Clark, Flickr Creative Commons

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Colorado population grew just over 100,000 from 2014 to 2015. Denver photo courtesy of Michael Levine-Clark, Flickr Creative Commons

I know what you’re thinking. I am a young, self-entitled transplant listening to Bob Marley and slowing down traffic on the highway every day. I also have very little grasp on Colorado’s geography, politics and culture.

And you’re right. Until I landed my summer job working on water education events at Denver Water, I couldn’t even tell you where my water comes from.

Thousands of new residents moving into Colorado are probably like me. When it comes to water issues like availability and quality, we haven’t a clue.

Many of these newbies don’t think twice about using only what they need, because water conservation has never been an issue for them before.

Fortunately, many of our customers are pretty savvy about water use. They’ve reduced water use by more than 20 percent in the last 15 years, despite a 15 percent population increase.

As the summer marketing coordinator for Denver Water, I’ve discovered that people here really care about their water and want to know more. Working the Denver Water trailer around the city, I’ve been fielding lots of questions about where the water comes from, how much is left and how clean it is.

Maybe it is the ongoing drought in California, or maybe water has always been an important issue in semi-arid Colorado. Whatever the case, people want to know our stance on current water regulations, such as the new rain barrel bill. They want to know about lead, fluoride and what happens to the water before they drink it.

But the best part of working the Water Trailer is keeping everyone hydrated, and seeing the reactions when people drink our water. Many people, after taking that first sip, say it’s the best in the country. Visitors arriving by train to Union Station (where we strategically parked the trailer one Saturday), said they were surprised by the quality of our water. Some even asked where they could buy it!

It’s going to be a busy summer on the water education trail. Look for us at these events and keep the questions coming!

Photo from Servicios de la Raza's 2015 "Xulpantla" event at Columbus Park in Denver.

Photo from Servicios de la Raza’s 2015 “Xupantla” event at Columbus Park in Denver.

Water your mind

Quench your literary thirst with this summer reading list.

By Sabrina Hall

Ahh, summer. The days are longer, Colorado’s weather is beautiful and kids and adults alike are putting together their summer reading lists. So kick back in a lawn chair, watch your sprinklers water your lawn with the greatest efficiency (obviously only between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m., using the cycle-and-soak method), and quench your reading thirst with these great books (despite the long titles). Here are some of our favorites, with summaries from the publishers:

“A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water,” by Patricia Limerick and Jason L. Hanson


Tracing the origins and growth of Denver Water, “A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water” places this case study in the big picture of regional and national history. Written in a lively style and enriched with photographs and images, this book raises questions of consequence about the complex relationship among cities, suburbs and rural areas. If you live in Colorado, this is a must-read in your personal library.

“Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do,” by Wallace J. Nichols


Why does being near water set our minds and bodies at ease? In “Blue Mind,” Wallace J. Nichols revolutionizes how we think about these questions, revealing the remarkable truth about the benefits of being around water. Combining cutting-edge neuroscience with compelling personal stories from top athletes, leading scientists, military veterans and gifted artists, he shows how proximity to water can improve performance, increase calm, diminish anxiety and increase professional success. Denver Water’s 1,100+ employees would tend to agree.

Guide to the High Line Canal, by Denver Water


If you’d rather read trail signs than books, then check out the Guide to the High Line Canal. This full-color, pocket-sized companion suggests what to look for, what to avoid, where to find the best scenery and where to park along the 71-mile High Line Canal. The guide offers mile-by-mile descriptions, as well as geographical and historical facts about this urban treasure.

“Did a Dinosaur Drink This Water?,” by Robert Wells


You didn’t think we would leave out books for our young water drinkers, did you? There are almost too many to choose from, but here are some great children’s books on the water cycle. We can’t resist “Did a Dinosaur Drink This Water?,” which teaches how the water we have on earth today is the same water that has been cycling through the different stages of the water cycle for millennia.

For the record, it’s about water safety

Landlubbers and mariners alike sport life jackets to spread the word.

By Kristi Delynko


Russia recently shattered the Guinness World Record for the largest swimwear parade on skis.

Admit it, you’ve always wanted to be a world record holder, and now you’re kicking yourself for not packing your suit and booking that flight to Sochi.

Don’t despair. Your dream can still be a reality, and you don’t have to risk hypothermia to make it happen.

Saturday, May 21, is Ready, Set, Wear It! Life Jacket World Record Day, and you can achieve your global celebrity status by attending one of four Colorado events sporting your life jacket.

You may even run into some Denver Water employees. Of course, we’re not in it for the fame, but we love sharing safety messages with our customers.

In 2014, there were 418 drowning deaths in the U.S, and 337 of those people were not wearing a life jacket.

Some of these deaths may have been preventable. That’s why about 60 Denver Water employees last week participated in a boating safety course taught by the U.S. Coast Guard. We want everyone to enjoy the abundant recreational opportunities at seven of our reservoirs and along our many rivers and watersheds.

The Coast Guard training was valuable and potentially life-saving, said John Baker, safety and loss control specialist for Denver Water. “It reinforces the importance of wearing a life jacket at all times when we’re on and around the water,” he said.

While some employees are lucky enough to work near a lake or stream, many of us landlubbers at Denver Water aren’t.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t spread the word about National Safe Boating Week, which runs from May 21 to 27. So, we took a moment to don our life jackets to bring attention to the importance of water safety.

They’re probably not winning any world records here, but we think they look pretty snazzy.

Disclaimer: No employees were harmed during the taking of these photos (other than their pride, maybe). While they do look ready for boating season, most of these employees are not qualified to share safety advice. For the real experts on life jacket safety, visit the North American Safe Boating Campaign website.

Time to demystify your sprinkler system

Don’t just ‘set it and forget it.’ You may find yourself in The Twilight Zone.

By Jimmy Luthye

Sadly, I do not have a sprinkler system, nor a yard to call my own. So, you can imagine my confusion when I learned of a widespread problem among those far more sprinkler-savvy than myself; namely, people are often intimidated and, yes, even a bit nervous to go near their sprinkler control box.

Why? Frankly, sprinkler timers can seem complicated if you’re not familiar with them, but that’s no excuse to ignore them. Come with us as we uncover the mysteries of the sprinkler system and show you how to get cozy with your timer. It’ll save you money and water!


When it comes to watering your lawn, it’s critical you don’t just “set it and forget it” all summer. Be sure to check back and adjust often, depending on the month and the recent weather conditions. For example, you should water less in May than in July.

Diligence is key to saving water while keeping your lawn healthy.

And make sure you’re using the appropriate watering technique. Rick Alvarado, a water conservation technician at Denver Water, recommends the cycle-and-soak method.


Remember, use your irrigation controller to add multiple start times and reduce each zone’s watering time.

Leave up to an hour between start times to allow for the last cycle to soak into the soil.

Cycle and soak. Makes sense.

Learn more about the cycle-and-soak method from the Colorado State University Extension.

In case you missed it, check out our original Twilight Zone parody — a journey into an underground vault.


Contributing: Rick Alvarado, Jay Adams, Matt Bond and Big Foot the cat.

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