Nice ice!

IMG_8314It’s late in the second period of a Colorado Avalanche home game at Pepsi Center, and the Avalanche players are on the attack. They chase the puck behind their opponent’s net, gliding on a silvery surface as smooth as glass. Two players fight for a puck in the corner, skate blades grinding the ice, desperately maintaining balance.

Tony Kreusch is watching it all. But he’s not watching the players as much as the surface. Kreusch is the director of ice operations for the Avalanche, the man responsible for creating a world-class skating surface for the fastest game on ice.

“If we don’t do our job right, they can’t do their jobs,” Kreusch said.

Creating an ice rink to meet National Hockey League standards takes more than just pouring some water on the ground and watching it freeze. And Kreusch says even though the product Denver Water supplies as a foundation for ice making is quite good, it’s a part of a bigger equation.

“We can use the water we get straight from the tap when we need to, but we typically put it through one more filtration process, called reverse osmosis.” Kreusch said. “It gives us better clarity in the ice, and it allows the ice to bond together a bit better. That makes for a better skating, nicer-looking surface.”

An NHL rink consists of several layers, starting with a cement floor that is chilled to around 14 degrees by underground piping filled with refrigerated glycol. Water is then frozen in stages, including a layer with a paint-like substance that makes the ice look white. In all, a typical ice surface measures 1.25 inches thick.

On a typical game day, Kreusch and his crew can resurface the ice up to 10 times, using about 3,000 gallons of water each day. This is usually where the Zamboni comes in, the large, tractor-like vehicle that circles the ice, putting down a thin layer of water in the rink. If you look closely, you’ll notice an odd characteristic to that water.

IMG_8341“It’s actually heated to a temperature of 140 to 160 degrees,” Kreusch said. “Hot water flows better than cold, and putting down hot water allows ice to freeze without air bubbles. That gives us the smoothest surface possible.”

Kreusch monitors everything on a game day, from the temperature of the glycol, to the surface ice temps, to the temperature and humidity inside and outside the arena.

“Every time an arena door opens, it has the potential to change the equation of how we maintain the ice,” Kreusch said. “Temperature and humidity mean everything.”

Kreusch believes the players know and appreciate a good ice surface. After all, one bad spot on the ice could sideline a player who is making millions of dollars a year, not to mention jeopardizing the fortunes of a team trying to win a championship. To this, Kreusch says no news is good news.

“We normally don’t hear from the players when the ice is good, only when there is a problem. So if all is quiet, we know we’ve done our job well.”

Another satisfied Denver Water customer, even if our water is only the tip of the ice … berg, so to speak.

Take a fishing trip to learn how it’s all connected

Believe it or not, you may have skied on a snowflake or dropped a fishing line into a stream filled with water that is now coming out of your tap. Water connects all of us in many different ways. See how it’s all connected for Dave Bennett, a water resource manager at Denver Water:

Can turkeys really drown in the rain?

Turkey photo iStock croppedYou may have heard the urban legend: If a turkey looks up in a rainstorm, it will drown. As the story goes, turkeys aren’t very smart and will often stare at the sky with their mouths open. Down comes the rain and, well … bye bye birdie.

At Denver Water, we were quite troubled by this tale, particularly with “Turkey Day” right around the corner. And since we are generally fascinated by anything water-related, we decided to investigate.

We’re no animal behavior experts, but our limited research revealed that the turkey drowning story is, in fact, only a legend. And along the way we actually found out a lot about turkeys. You can read more about your favorite Thanksgiving delicacy here, here and here.

So let us give thanks that our fine-feathered, flightless friend isn’t in danger the next time a few storm clouds float by.

 

This story got us thinking about all we can be thankful for this holiday season. Here’s our list:

  • We are thankful for ample moisture in 2014. The Denver metro area saw 4 more inches of moisture than normal during the irrigation season, from May to September.
  • That was on top of the tremendous snowpack levels from the spring. Our reservoir system is still 94 percent full after a full summer of use, much better than in the drought years of 2012 and 2013.
  • We are thankful for our customers’ continued conservation efforts. This watering season, they used 14 percent less water than in previous years.
  • We are thankful turkeys only drink about a quart of water a day. That’s very efficient compared to similar-sized animals.
  • We are thankful for refrigerators, which are a much better way to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey than cold water. Properly thawing a 12-pound turkey in the sink takes six hours, and when you have to change the water every 30 minutes, it really adds up!
  • And we are thankful for modern technology and the hardworking men and women who don’t mind braving the elements this time of year to ensure our customers have clean water to prepare their Thanksgiving meals.

What about you? Any water-related thanks to share this year?

A lesson from “Speed” on preparing for the unknown

“Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?”

This memorable line from the movie “Speed” may seem farfetched, but highlights why it is vital to prepare for crisis situations — no matter how unlikely they may seem. By bringing together stakeholders to practice emergency responses, the more equipped we all are to coordinate and react to unforeseen situations in the future.

With that in mind, we gathered more than 100 experts from Denver Water and 28 other agencies from the local, state and federal levels, and presented them with a realistic simulation of an extreme flooding event at Dillon Reservoir in Summit County. Then we asked: “What do you do? What do you do?”

Here is how our movie turned out:

 

What’s so Moody about water?

Fill in the blank: Aaa is better than ____?

“Aa” of course.

Denver Water was recently upgraded to Aaa by Moody’s Investors Service — a leading provider of credit ratings — and our Finance Division was ecstatic.

We think our customers should be excited too. But, why?

We took to the streets of Denver to find out. (Hint: It has to do with money savings to customers and the sound financial decisions Denver Water employees make every day.)

Why don’t we just let you see it for yourselves:

 

H2Ooohh: Halloween water facts

Whether you are carving a pumpkin, bobbing for apples or running from zombies this Halloween, water is bound to be part of the festivities.

Below are 10 not-so-scary water facts to share over a steaming cup of witches’ brew at your Halloween party.

Erik Holck, Denver Water construction project manager, grew a giant pumpkin weighing in at 657 pounds this summer. For one stretch in August, the pumpkin grew about 28 pounds a day!

Erik Holck, Denver Water construction project manager, grew a giant pumpkin weighing in at 657 pounds this summer. For one stretch in August, the pumpkin grew about 28 pounds a day!

  1. It takes 350,000 gallons of water over a 100-day growing season for a one-acre corn maze.
  2. A pumpkin is 90 percent water.
  3. The optimal water level to bob for apples is 5 gallons in a 10-gallon tub.
  4. A black cat drinks 2-4 ounces of water each day.
  5. A kettle of witches’ brew contains very little water; it’s mostly dead leaves, seaweed and rotten eggs.
  6. Cleaning your teeth is a must after eating Halloween candy, but make sure to turn off the water while brushing.
  7. A human is 60 percent water; a zombie is 0 percent water.
  8. Each glass of apple cider takes 50 gallons of water to produce.
  9. It takes 20 gallons of water to grow one candy apple.
  10. Don’t turn on the hose to melt the Wicked Witch of the West; it only takes one bucket of water.

Denver Water wishes you a happy Halloween!

Why do you want to go to H2O Outdoors Camp?

2013 H2O Outdoors campers.

2013 H2O Outdoors campers.

“The one thing that is most interesting to me is that we can drink from any water faucet. Back in Tonga we weren’t allowed to drink from the water faucet. The water from the faucet was really bad and it could make you sick. It wasn’t a good idea at all.” – Former H2O Outdoors camper

Every year, Denver Water’s Youth Education team meets up with Aurora Water and the Colorado River District at Keystone Science School in Summit County for a three-day water camp called H2O Outdoors.

“This camp provides high school students from varied backgrounds throughout Colorado with an opportunity to learn about water in the state and all of its complexities in a fun, hands-on environment,” said Matt Bond, Denver Water’s Youth Education manager. “These students will be future decision-makers, and the camp sets them up to be experts on the state’s water gap.”

The camp is offered at a minimal $25 administrative fee (scholarships available), along with an application requiring potential campers to answer why they would like to participate in the program.

Here are some highlights from past application responses:

  • snap copyI would like to learn about the decisions that impact our water rights in Aurora.
  • I am an environmentalist who enjoys learning about the nature around us, and more than anything I’d enjoy learning about the problems affecting us here in Colorado.
  • I participated this summer in the Nuestro Rio Colorado River/Grand Canyon expedition and learned a lot about our water source and the importance of restoring healthy flows to the Colorado River. I want to continue my studies in this area and also enjoy learning outdoors. I also would like to learn more about what kind of work I could do to support the water flows.
  • I would like to participate in this camp because I live close to the headwaters of the Colorado River, I am interested in biology, and I like to do outdoor activities that involve being in the river or on lakes.

 

 

For more information:

  • Visit Keystone Science School for camp specifics and application details.
  • Read H2O Outdoors, a guest post by David Miller, school programs director for Keystone Science School.
  • Watch a video about the camp, produced by Aurora Water.
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