Archive for the ‘Water treatment’ 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).


All in a day’s — or night’s — work

On the shortest day of the year, the sun sets early, but you still need water. We’ll be there.

By Kristi Delynko

Dec. 21 is the winter solstice, the shortest day — and longest night — of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. And while many of us use an early sunset as an excuse to curl up on the couch with a good book or movie, some Denver Water employees will be hard at work — no matter how short the daylight hours.

Ensuring 1.4 million people receive high-quality drinking water is a 24/7 operation. Here’s a glimpse at what some of our employees will be doing long after the sun sets.

Emergency services conducts night work to repair a leak

A customer calls the emergency services dispatcher to report water bubbling up in the middle of a busy intersection. Even in the dark, members of the Emergency Services team are Denver Water’s first responders. They handle anything from shutting off water so crews can repair pipe breaks, to supporting Denver firefighters during multi-alarm blazes, to assisting customers with water quality complaints.


Daniel Ruvalcaba, senior utility technician, works on repairing an underground leak

Water mains burst when they want to, and usually at inopportune times, like when it’s dark and chilly. After Emergency Services responds to a call, a Water Distribution crew — including senior utility technician Daniel Ruvalcaba — fix the problem so customers can have water service restored as soon as possible.


Water treatment plant supervisor David Brancio

Long after many of us have gone to bed, staff at our four water treatment plants are hard at work. They gear up overnight when water use is low, to ensure the plants can meet customers’ needs during the day, when demand is higher. Our three drinking water plants and recycling plant are staffed around-the-clock by operators and maintenance personnel like water treatment plant supervisor David Brancio, who monitor the treatment processes and run lab tests to ensure the water we deliver (sometimes at the rate of 350,000 gallons a minute) meets all the federal and state regulations, and even tighter Denver Water standards.


Distribution operator Albert Geist monitors our complex water system

Coffee percolates and the dark room glows from monitors that cover entire walls in Systems Operations (also known as Load Control). Distribution operators like Albert Geist work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, scanning various computer screens to make sure our 30 treated water reservoirs, more than 3,000 miles of pipe, 160 pressure zones and 22 pump stations are ready for the morning load as our customers wake and prepare for their day. With a water system as large and complex as ours, pumps, facilities, even entire pipelines occasionally go down for service, maintenance or repair. Operators must constantly respond to alarms that signal potential real-time problems with everything from equipment and instrumentation to water quality and pressure.

We provide customers an average of 64 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water and 2 billion gallons of treated recycled water every year. No small task, but it’s all in a day’s — or night’s — work at Denver Water.

Anytime is a good time to test for lead in your water

If you missed lead prevention week, follow these tips to check your home plumbing and reduce your risk.

By Dana Strongin

We hope that National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (Oct. 23-29, 2016) prompted you to check your home for common sources of lead, which can range from paint to pottery.

But it’s always a good time to test for lead, and we can help, when it comes to your water.

Denver’s water supply is free of lead. But your service line or household plumbing may be made of lead, and that can leach into your water.

Denver Water lead test kit

Denver Water offers customers a free lead testing kit.

If you’re concerned about the water in your home, the first step is to get a water quality test. Denver Water customers can request a free test, and the state keeps a list of other options.

Our sampling kit comes with three bottles, which must be filled with water from the same faucet. (See this video for all of the single-family kit steps.) This helps us analyze water from throughout a home’s entire plumbing system, to help determine the source of any lead.

Whether or not you use our test, it’s important to understand where water meets lead: within a home’s plumbing, after it leaves Denver Water’s system.

Sources of lead in your home include:

Sources of lead

There are several potential sources of lead in a home’s plumbing.

  • Faucets and faucet parts made of brass, especially if they were installed before 2014.
  • Pipes made of lead or galvanized iron.
  • Copper pipes connected with solder made of lead, which was common before 1987.
  • A lead or galvanized service line, which connects your home to the water main in the street. Homes built before the mid-1950s are the most likely to have lead service lines.

To better understand your home’s plumbing, you might want to hire a plumber, said Steve Price, coordinator for Denver Water’s lead reduction program.

“You can’t necessarily see everything your faucet is made of. The same goes for service lines, because they run underground,” Price said. Experienced, licensed plumbers can test service lines and — if needed — replace lines, pipes or fixtures.

Get more tips for reducing your risk of exposure to lead through drinking water. Helpful resources on preventing lead poisoning from soil, paint and other sources include the EPA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More stories about lead:

Watershed: It’s not a building for storing water

Denver Water celebrates Arbor Day with a tribute to Mother Nature’s own water filtration process.

Denver Water knows firsthand the debilitating consequences forest fires can have on a watershed. In 2002, the Hayman Fire burned thousands of acres near Denver Water’s Cheesman Reservoir, as shown in this photo.

Denver Water knows firsthand the debilitating consequences forest fires can have on a watershed. In 2002, the Hayman Fire burned thousands of acres near Denver Water’s Cheesman Reservoir, as shown in this photo.

By Kristi Delynko and Steve Snyder

“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.”

Hold on. No need to be confused. Despite the poetic interlude, you are still on Denver Water’s site. But it’s Arbor Day, and we want to show our appreciation for trees.

So why does a water utility care about trees (beyond the obvious reasons why most of us love trees)?

One simple word: watersheds.

Now that’s a word you don’t hear every day. And no, it’s not a temporary building for storing water.

When it rains, or when mountain snow begins to melt, gravity pulls the water downhill. The water comes together as runoff to form small streams, which connect with other streams to form a river.

As the runoff travels downhill, it may pass through forests, farmland and even commercial, industrial and urban areas. This is called a watershed, which directly impacts the quality of water that eventually gathers in Denver Water’s reservoirs, where we store water for 1.4 million people.

“People don’t realize how important a healthy forest environment in our watershed is to their water supply,” said Paula Daukas, manager of environmental planning. “It’s the first, natural filtration process our source waters see.”

Healthy trees in a watershed absorb rainfall and snowmelt, slow storm runoff, recharge aquifers, sustain stream flows and filter pollutants from the air and runoff.

But, wildfires and insect infestations can harm watersheds, which highlights the need for us to take aggressive steps to protect forest health.

We can’t exactly uproot these trees and take them to the doctor, so Denver Water scientists make house calls. (Or should we call them “forest calls”?) Either way, our medical bills are insane!

From 2010 to 2016, Denver Water and the U.S. Forest Service invested more than $33 million in forest treatment and watershed protection projects in a management partnership program called, From Forests to Faucets.

“Through the From Forests to Faucets program, we’ve treated and reforested more than 40,000 acres of forestland to mitigate potential wildfires, insect infestations and restore a healthy forest — reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires,” said Christina Burri, Denver Water’s watershed scientist.

And because some watersheds aren’t on federal lands, Denver Water also partners with others throughout the state to maintain healthy forests on private and non-federal lands with programs like our source water protection programs.

There’s so much more to drinking water than what comes out of your tap, which is why Denver Water has a team of scientists and collaborative partnerships to ensure our watersheds are in tip-top shape.

So when you turn on the faucet to fill your glass, know you’re drinking water that was filtered largely by the forests of Colorado. Perhaps you may ponder your own poetic ode to trees, and raise your glass in gratitude to the healthy forests that make up your watersheds this Arbor Day.

Breaking down barriers, building trust

Some of our Latino customers wanted to see for themselves that our water is safe to drink. So we showed them.

By Steve Snyder

“Why should I trust you?”

It was an honest question at the beginning of an uncertain journey.

The question came from a Denver Water customer about to take a tour of our distribution system. But this wasn’t the kind of tour we typically give, where we showcase the size and complexity of our system to people who already know about — and usually trust — Denver’s water.

Community members from Westwood Unidos explore at the base of Strontia Springs dam,

Community members from Westwood Unidos explore at the base of Strontia Springs Dam.

She was with a group from Westwood Unidos, an organization that supports resident-led projects to improve community health in southwest Denver. Westwood Unidos has joined forces with the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation to encourage residents to drink more water and fewer sugary beverages.

But when it comes to tap water, that’s easier said than done in some communities. Culture can often be the barrier, contributing to an inherent distrust that the public water supply is safe to drink. Nearly all of the people on the tour still have close generational ties to Mexico, a country with a long history of water supply and water quality problems.

“People we work with don’t trust the public water supply,” said Rachel Cleaves, a community coordinator with Westwood Unidos. “They’ve been told not to drink tap water since they were kids. That means that they boil water to use in their homes, and they are spending money unnecessarily on bottled water to drink.”

“They think tap water will make them sick,” Cleaves added. “That’s understandable because in many countries it is unsafe to drink the water.”

While catchy conservation campaigns and mainstream education efforts can reach many in our service area, getting the word out to diverse audiences about water quality requires additional steps.

“Not only are there language barriers, but there are significant cultural differences as well,” said Katie Knoll, Denver Water’s manager of stakeholder relations, and one of the people who organized the tour. “When we reached out to Westwood Unidos, they told us the people in the neighborhood needed to see where their water came from and the other measures we take to make our water safe to drink.”

And see it they did. Denver Water took a group of 30 people to Strontia Springs Reservoir, where Denver Water’s source water is stored after it runs off the mountains. The next stop was the Marston Treatment Plant, so the group could get a first-hand look at how Denver Water treats the water supply before distributing it to customers.

The Westwood Unidos tour group gets an up-close look at their water supply in Strontia Springs Reservoir.

The Westwood Unidos tour group gets an up-close look at the water supply in Strontia Springs Reservoir.

At the end of the day, members of the group said they felt more informed and very grateful for the experience.

“I’m drinking tap water as soon as I get home,” one resident said confidently. “I can’t wait to tell all my friends and family.”

This tour was the first of several planned outreach efforts with culturally diverse groups in our service area.

“It’s up to us to win the trust of our customers by answering their questions and showing them how their water system works,” Knoll said.

Recycled, yes. Untreated, no.

You can’t drink it, but recycled water, twice treated, plays an ever-expanding role in Colorado’s future. 

Recycled water has successfully been used on various species of trees, plants and grasses at the Recycling Plant since it first opened in 2004.

Recycled water has successfully been used on various species of trees, plants and grasses at the Recycling Plant since it first opened in 2004.

By Travis Thompson

According to The Naked Scientists at the University of Cambridge, some of the water we drink today is the same water that dinosaurs drank 65 million years ago.

Rest assured, there is no T-Rex slobber in your drinking water — we have a state-of-art treatment process to make sure of that. But, this means all water is in fact, recycled.

So why do so many people get uneasy when they hear “recycled” and “water” used together?

Maybe it’s because the water we drink is commonly referred to as “treated water,” which seems to suggest — erroneously — that recycled water isn’t treated at all.

“This language has always bothered me because recycled water is a high-quality water source that has actually gone through two separate treatment processes,” said Russ Plakke, Denver Water’s Recycling Plant supervisor.

Recycled water isn’t treated to the same highest-quality standard we impose on our drinking water. (That’s why recycled water systems are marked with signs saying, “Don’t drink the water.”)

But did you know that today’s recycled water would have met the drinking water standards of the early 1980s? That’s the 1980s — not the 1880s.

Purple, which has become the international symbol for recycled water, is used on valve boxes, manhole covers, newer sprinkler heads and even the pipes inside our Recycling Plant.

Purple, which has become the international symbol for recycled water, is used on valve boxes, manhole covers, newer sprinkler heads and even the pipes inside our Recycling Plant, pictured here.

Recycled water has successfully helped free up drinking water supplies for more than 100 years across the country and since the early 1960s in Colorado. Once fully built-out, Denver Water’s system will supply more than five billion gallons of recycled water every year, which is water we don’t have to take from a reservoir.

It’s a big part of Colorado’s future, too. On Nov. 19, Gov. Hickenlooper unveiled Colorado’s Water Plan, a document seeking to address the state’s most difficult water challenges. From incentives and loan programs for recycled water projects to updated plumbing codes, various forms of water reuse are identified in the plan as part of the solution.

A recent op-ed penned by Jim Lochhead, Denver Water’s CEO, and Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River District, stressed that the water plan’s call to action won’t be easy.

And that’s certainly true for expanding the use of recycled water. One hurdle, recently highlighted by 9News and The Denver Post, is the potential impact of higher sodium levels in recycled water on non-native conifer trees.

Denver Water has been working with experts to optimize landscape management practices using recycled water since 2004, when the Recycling Plant opened.

Plakke has been using the Recycling Plant grounds as his own demonstration garden.

Healthy conifers can be found on the Recycling Plant grounds as well.

Healthy conifers — watered with recycled water — on the Recycling Plant grounds.

“Many trees and plants — especially natives — thrive with recycled water,” said Plakke. “I’ve been using recycled water on various species of trees, plants and grasses since it opened more than a decade ago, and the campus looks great!”

But sodium levels, along with location, soil type, watering schedules and weather conditions (such as drought, dry winters and hard freezes like we saw in 2014) all play a part in tree health.

“Needless to say, it’s complicated, and we still have a lot to learn,” said Plakke.

That’s why Denver Water is working with a group of experts, scientists and community members in 2016 to assess the current state of recycled water and trees. The group will determine if more testing is needed and recommend further improvements to managing this important water resource.

Plakke applauds recycled water customers for learning how to best use this source in their system — and for answering the governor’s call to help secure the future water supply of this state.


Mines draining to Denver? Not on our watch.

Contaminated waterways are in the spotlight, but what does this mean for your drinking water?

Water quality investigators gather samples all year long. Aubrey Miller (left) and James Berrier, drill through two feet of ice on the Colorado River near Kremlin to gather samples.

Water quality investigators gather samples all year long. Aubrey Miller (left) and James Berrier, drill through two feet of ice on the Colorado River near Kremlin to gather samples.

By Travis Thompson

After the Animas River vividly meandered through mountains and towns like an orange-colored serpent as a result of the Gold King Mine spill in early August, conversations ignited about abandoned mines in Colorado.

While this topic is very serious, it isn’t new. Mines have such a prominent place in our state’s history that there are tours and museums dedicated to mining’s past, including the Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s replica mine shaft exhibit.

So, what does this mean for Denver Water? A recent Denver Post article could leave customers wondering about the water quality impacts from some of the mines in Denver’s watersheds. While the article accurately notes that the water treatment processes keep contaminants from impacting drinking water, there are additional reasons why your water is safe from these mines.

Zeke Campbell, Denver Water’s superintendent of water quality and treatment, explained that Denver Water’s work to provide the highest quality water begins well before it reaches the treatment plants.

“We monitor the water throughout our collection system, including in rivers, streams and reservoirs,” said Campbell. “Our water quality tests don’t detect a measurable level of contaminants from mine drainage.”

Last year, Denver Water collected more than 16,000 samples and conducted more than 60,000 tests from the mountains to customer taps.

But what if a spill were to occur within one of Denver’s watersheds?

“We’ve developed models to help us determine how long it would take a spill or leak to reach certain points within our system, and our employees are trained to stop contaminants from spreading,” said Bob Lindgren, Denver Water’s superintendent of source of supply. “We also work closely with local authorities, first responders and stakeholders to maximize the response during any issues across our water collection system.”

And, if a Gold King Mine-sized spill occurred, Lindgren said that Denver Water has some ability to move and pull water from different sources, isolating the contaminated area while continuing to provide clean water from other locations throughout the system. “Having multiple storage facilities in different watersheds, three water treatment plants and redundancy built into our distribution system provides us with additional operational flexibility.”

This flexibility is important, which is why Denver Water continues to design and build a more resilient and balanced system as an added safeguard for when emergencies occur.

“Most important, our employees are working around-the-clock to ensure we continue to deliver safe, great-tasting water directly to your tap,” said Campbell.


New 46-foot tower makes a big splash at Marston

‘Giant blender’ pulls water from different depths of the reservoir, sending the highest-quality mix to the treatment plant — and your home.

By Jay Adams

The water went down and a new tower went up. And now a nearly 100-year-old reservoir has a modern way of delivering water.

Over the past 18 months, Marston Reservoir has undergone a $13 million makeover. The centerpiece of the project is a new 46-foot tall outlet tower on the northeast shore. Marston is considered one of Denver Water’s terminal reservoirs, which means it’s the last stop for mountain water before it heads to the treatment process.

The new outlet tower at Marston Reservoir is part of a $13 million renovation project.

The new outlet tower at Marston Reservoir is part of a $13 million renovation project.

“This is a huge project for Denver Water,” said Eric Swanson, Denver Water construction project inspector. And he should know. Swanson watched the tower grow every step of the way. “It’s really been a big team effort for the past year.”

The new tower uses modern technology and has a bridge to connect it with the dam. It was built not only to move water out of the reservoir, but also to improve the water treatment process.

“It’s a misconception that our water goes straight from the mountains to the tap. There’s actually a lot more to it,” said Patty Brubaker, manager of the Marston Treatment Plant.

The water in the reservoir can reach 68-feet deep at full capacity and has various characteristics at different depths, depending on the time of year. In the summer, for example, the water is warm at the surface and cool at the bottom. Oxygen levels, temperature, algae levels and turbidity (a measure of water clarity), among other factors, all change at different levels of the reservoir.

The new tower acts like a big blender, pulling water from different levels through three slide gates and sending the best mix to the adjacent treatment plant.

“We’re blending or selecting the best water so it’s easier for us to treat in the plant,” Brubaker said. “It saves us time, it saves us energy, it saves us in chemical costs, and in the end, we provide higher-quality water for our customers.”

The old outlet tower was built in the 1960s.

Marston’s old outlet tower was built in the 1960s.

The new tower replaces an old outlet pipe that was built in the 1920s and an outlet tower built in the 1960s. The old tower had slide gates that did not function properly and couldn’t capture low-level water in drought years.

And one other drawback: The old tower was in the middle of the lake, making it accessible only by boat.

The $13 million project included nearly draining the reservoir, breaching the dam, constructing a new 84-inch connection pipe and building a new emergency drain line to bring the dam up to state engineering standards.

“There’s a lot of hard work that happened over the last year to make this all happen,” Swanson said. “It’s too bad, a lot of the infrastructure we built is underwater, so no one will be able to see it unless they take a look at all the photographs I took.”

The new tower will come online this fall after a series of tests.

The impact of the project will be felt for years to come, Brubaker said. “Since the last drought, we realized that we really needed to have the ability to use this reservoir’s full capacity.”

And, she added, the project will benefit the entire system. “It allows us to provide the highest-quality and quantity water to our system and to our customers.”



The “why” behind our fluoride policy

Denver Water’s board decided to continue community water fluoridation by weighing the evidence. Now you can, too.

By Denver Water staff

Denver Board of Water Commissioner members listen to information at the July 2015 fluoride information session.

Denver Board of Water Commissioners listen to information at the July 2015 fluoride information session.

In the end, it came down to the science. And there’s a lot of it.

On Aug. 26, the Denver Board of Water Commissioners voted to continue its practice of community water fluoridation.

That decision was not entirely unexpected. Denver Water has been regulating fluoride in the water since 1953, but board members said they took opposition to the policy seriously and requested a review of the latest science from the foremost national and local authorities to inform our policy.

Fluoride naturally occurs in many of Denver Water’s supply sources. We add fluoride as necessary to achieve an average concentration equal to the target recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Earlier this year, opponents of water fluoridation began appearing at Denver Water board meetings, urging commissioners to end the practice. In response, the board held a fluoride information session on July 29 and encouraged public input. Many individuals and organizations submitted comments and reference documents.

“We are just trying to educate people on this issue,” said Greg Gillette, a spokesman for We are Change Colorado, a group urging Denver Water to stop adding fluoride to water. “We hope everybody has an open mind.”

After reviewing the presentations, the extensive research on this issue, and the advice of public health and medical professionals in Colorado, the board announced there would be no change in its water fluoridation policy.

The resolution the board adopted at its meeting stated: “Nothing we heard through the presentations or learned in research would justify ignoring the advice of the public health agencies and medical organizations or deviating from the thoroughly researched and documented recommendation of the U.S. Public Health Service.”

Denver Water Commissioner Greg Austin went on record saying, “After careful consideration of the information put forth by both sides of the fluoridation debate, I am convinced that the community water fluoridation level recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service provides substantial health benefits, and is a safe, cost-effective and common sense contribution to the health of the public.”

The research on fluoridation is quite extensive. Here’s a sample of what board members and Denver Water staff reviewed:

  • The work of the Federal Panel on Community Water Fluoridation. This group of physicians, epidemiologists, environmental health experts, dental professionals, toxicologists, statisticians and economists re-examined water fluoridation levels.
    • In 2011, the U.S. Public Health Service published a proposed recommendation based on the conclusions of that panel.
    • The Public Health Service then received thousands of comments opposing community water fluoridation, raising the same categories of objections as those submitted to Denver Water at our public forum and during the public comment period.
    • The Panel did not identify compelling new information to alter its assessment that fluoride levels of 0.7 milligrams per liter provide the best balance of benefit to potential harm.
    • In May 2015, the Public Health Service issued its final decision document, adopting a recommendation to change to a single target fluoride concentration of 0.7 milligrams per liter.
  • Letters, documentation and personal stories from public and professional health organizations and medical professionals supporting the continuation of community water fluoridation. Notably, every public health agency operating in our service area urged us to continue our practice of managing fluoride concentrations in our drinking water.

Commissioners also noted that if Denver Water stopped managing fluoride levels, our customers would still be drinking fluoridated water.

“But the levels would vary significantly, creating an imbalance throughout our service area,” Denver Water Commissioner Penfield Tate said. “Community water fluoridation provides dental health benefits across all socioeconomic communities in a predictable and uniform manner.”

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

Filter beds at a Denver Water treatment plant. Fluoride is added after filtration, prior to disinfection.

“Community water fluoridation is a public health action, which by definition protects the health of the population in general, and sometimes conflicts with individual choice,” said Denver Water General Counsel Patricia Wells. “Those who object to fluoridated water do have alternatives, such as nonfluoridated bottled water or in-home filtering systems.”

With their decision, the commissioners said they were relying on experts who bear the responsibility to protect the health of the public. Community water fluoridation provides health benefits to all our customers, at all stages and ages of their lives, regardless of their access to health care or their adherence to healthy living guidelines.

Denver Water consumers can inform themselves about fluoride levels in their water by accessing readily available public information on our website.



Bottled water vs. tap water

When it comes to water quality and cost, it’s important to know the facts

By Travis Thompson 

Our friends at Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District took to Twitter to ask a handful of water utilities for thoughts about a recent opinion piece in The Washington Post, We don’t trust drinking fountains anymore, and that’s bad for our health, by Kendra Pierre-Louis.

Tweet 1

The piece provides an interesting history of the public water fountain, unveiled in London in 1859, and follows its rise and decline along with that of bottled water — at one point considered to be “low class”  — alongside public health environmental changes that have influenced society’s behavior and choices since the late 1800s.

Madison Water Utility responded with a picture of water fountains they’ve installed in local schools with a sign saying: “Your brain is 70% water! Drink up for a healthy you!” And Miami-Dade County’s Urban Conservation Unit shared their own photo of a drinking fountain, proclaiming they would like to see more.

Tweet 2             Tweet 3


The article and tweets are really about the value of water, igniting a conversation of the benefits that safe, affordable tap water provide to the community. But the article inevitably touches on a popular battle in the world of water: bottled vs. tap.

Obviously, we promote the great-tasting and affordable water that we’ve provided to the Denver metro area for nearly 100 years. However, bottled water serves an important purpose for us and the community. In fact, we provide bottled water to customers during some emergencies when there is an extended water outage. But, the bottled vs. tap debate usually includes a lot of misinformation, especially when it comes to water quality and price, so we thought it important to chime in.

Water quality:

According to a Gallup poll cited in the piece, 77 percent of Americans are concerned about pollution in their drinking water, “even though tap water and bottled water are treated the same way, and studies show that tap is as safe as bottled.”

That’s a pretty hefty number. Many bottled water companies actually use tap water as the source, and bottled water is not as heavily regulated or tested as tap water.

Next time you fill a glass from your tap in Denver Water’s service area, know that the water you’re drinking is part a system that has more than 16,000 samples taken and 66,000 tests performed each year, to ensure the highest-quality water possible.


Pierre-Louis writes: “Drinking eight glasses of tap water a day costs about 49 cents a year. If you got that hydration exclusively from bottles, you’d pay about $1,400, or 2,900 times more. If you’re living at the poverty line, that’s 10 percent of your income.”

‘Nuff said. Currently, Denver Water customers pay an average of less than $3 for 1,000 gallons of water. Because we don’t make a profit, rates go to covering service costs — what it takes to capture, treat and deliver Rocky Mountain snowmelt to your tap as clean, great-tasting water.

Whether it’s through bottles, taps or fountains, water is the single-most essential element to every community. Water is life, and we applaud those who continue to keep the conversation of its value moving forward. Drink up!

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