Denver Water’s bumper sticker: It’s All Connected

license plate copy

Denver Water’s bumper sticker: It’s All Connected

By Travis Thompson 

The next time you head for the hills to enjoy the great Colorado outdoors, take a look for your neighbors as you drive along I-70 — they’re easy to spot.

From Colorado’s moniker, “Colorful Colorado,” to a one-word proclamation, “Native,” Coloradans proudly post messages on their vehicles to show how grateful they are to live here.

We feel the same way!

We’re not only the water provider for one-quarter of the state’s population, we also are proud Coloradans who live here for the same reasons as our friends, family and neighbors. That’s what makes our jobs so great. We manage a water supply system that is connected to something much greater than drinking water.

The water you’re drinking today started out as a snowflake that you may have skied on, just like Laurna Kaatz, Denver Water’s climate scientist:

 

Or was once part of a river you fished in, like Dave Bennett, water resource manager at Denver Water:

 

… which is why our bumper sticker proudly proclaims, “It’s All Connected.”

Battling a blaze, at thousands of gallons per minute

Denver Water's Tim Woodward checked the pressure gauges from each of the five fire hydrants used to extinguish a warehouse fire in east Denver on December 30, 2014.

Denver Water’s Tim Woodward checks the pressure gauges from a fire hydrant being used to help extinguish a warehouse fire in east Denver on Dec. 30, 2014.

Battling a blaze, at thousands of gallons per minute

Denver Water is on the scene to ensure firefighters have the water pressure they need  

By Travis Thompson

On a crisp December afternoon, with temperatures plummeting to record lows, pitch-black plumes of smoke cut through the arctic air as a warehouse fire raged in east Denver.

The Denver and Aurora fire departments both responded quickly to fight the blaze. Xcel Energy cut off gas to the building, and a crew from Denver Public Works sanded the ice rink created by the water dousing the building. RTD provided a large bus as a warming station, allowing firefighters to rest and thaw out, like hockey players shifting lines.

From the time the first responders arrived that frigid afternoon until the next morning when the last crew drowned the final hotspots, there was one constant — water.

At the height of the blaze, there were more than 10,000 gallons per minute of water flowing out of the hydrants, said Lt. Mike Pylar of Denver Fire. “Having Denver Water on the scene means our firefighters will have the water they need,” he said.

Denver Water’s system is designed for such highest-intensity uses, said Tim Woodward with Denver Water Emergency Services.

 

For major multi-alarm fires, Denver Water monitors the situation and, if needed, can adjust water flows so firefighters have the pressure they need to fight the blaze.

Woodward was on scene within an hour, checking the pressure gauges from each of the five fire hydrants used during the response.

“We respond to make sure everything is flowing so the firefighters don’t have to worry about water supply and can focus on the job at hand,” he said.

That supply includes a water system of 3,000 miles of water pipe and 19,000 hydrants, as well as 30 underground treated water storage tanks throughout Denver Water’s service area. Six in-house hydrant mechanics work to keep those hydrants in top condition.

“We are not just here to provide drinking water,” said Arnie Strasser, Denver Water’s manager of treated water planning. “We are also here to keep people safe.”

 

Draining Antero Reservoir: Where will all that water go?

Crews work on excavating Antero Dam this past October as part of the rehabilitation project that began in 2013.

Crews work on excavating Antero Dam this past October as part of the rehabilitation project that began in 2013.

Draining Antero Reservoir: Where will all that water go?

And 9 more facts about rehabbing Denver Water’s 100-year-old Antero Dam

This summer, Denver Water will empty Antero Reservoir to clear the way for significant repairs to the 100-year-old dam. Draining Antero is a major undertaking; the reservoir holds about 20,000 acre-feet of water, enough to supply approximately 50,000 households for one year in the Denver metro area. And such a project is bound to raise questions about the dam, the water supply and the impact on recreational fishing. Here are the answers to questions we thought Coloradans might ask:

1. So what’s wrong with the dam?

Antero Dam is fully operational, but it’s old. The dam has been in service for 100 years, and this rehab project will help ensure that it can operate for another 100 years. That means bringing the dam more in line with current standards of engineering and safety. It’s a big job, but a necessary one, at a cost of $17 to $20 million over several years.

2. How long will the reservoir be empty?

That depends. While the entire dam rehab project is tentatively scheduled to be completed in 2018, we expect to complete the phase that requires the reservoir to be drained by the end of 2015. Barring any weather or construction delays, refilling could begin as soon as spring of 2016. Generally, it takes from one to four years to refill the reservoir, depending on the amount of snowfall and timing of snowmelt. While it may be sooner, the safe bet is that the reservoir will return to its normal operation by late 2018, when construction ends.

3. When you drain the reservoir, where does all the water go?

We will recapture and store the water drained from Antero reservoir in several reservoirs along the South Platte River system, such as Cheesman, Marston and Chatfield.

4. Will draining the reservoir cause flooding or other safety concerns?

Denver Water has opted to draw down the reservoir in a planned and managed way before construction to minimize, if not completely eliminate, any flooding or safety concerns. It will take approximately two months to empty the reservoir. We believe this to be a much safer course of action than allowing water to remain in the reservoir and risking the need for an emergency unplanned release during construction.

Two recreationists fish off of a boat at Antero Reservoir in 2008. There are many other similarly accessible and productive fishing locations in Park County for anglers, water enthusiasts and other outdoor lovers to enjoy for the duration of the project.

Recreationists fish off of a boat at Antero Reservoir in 2009. There are many other similarly accessible and productive fishing locations in Park County for anglers, water enthusiasts and other outdoor lovers to enjoy for the duration of the project.

5. Have you drained the reservoir before?

Antero Reservoir was drained in the late 1990s to complete some repairs to the outlet works of the dam. It also was drained during the 2002 drought. Due to its shallow depth, Antero Reservoir has the highest evaporation rate of any of Denver Water’s reservoirs. In times of low water supply, moving the water to other reservoirs in Denver Water’s system reduces evaporation losses and makes the water available to customers.

6. What if we go into drought while the reservoir is empty?

We’re not losing the water from the Antero Reservoir. It will be stored in other reservoirs, where it can still serve as a reserve water supply.

7. If we have enough water in our system to drain a reservoir, why do you stress the need to conserve every year?

We plan to store the water drained from Antero Reservoir in other reservoirs throughout our collection system. Antero Reservoir is a reserve water supply that Denver Water maintains for use when our water supplies run low. Regardless of conditions, it is important that we all use water efficiently.

8. Will we still be able to use the park during construction?

Once we begin to drain the reservoir, the park will be closed to the public for the duration of the project. The park will re-open for recreation once the reservoir has been refilled and recreational opportunities, like fishing, bird-watching and camping, have been restored.

9. Will fishing be better after the project?

While there are no guarantees, we expect the rehabilitation project to provide a long-term benefit to the fishery by allowing us to return the reservoir to a depth of 18 feet (except during drought periods). The reservoir has been operating at a reduced capacity since May 2011, when we lowered the reservoir by 2 feet to investigate the condition of the dam.

10. What effect will this have on fishing at Antero and in other reservoirs in Park County?

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be increasing the bag and possession limit to eight fish, with no size restrictions, effective Saturday, Jan. 10. Additional information about the bag limit can be found here. Questions regarding fishing at Antero can be directed to Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-291-7227.

Once Antero Reservoir closes this summer, there will remain many other similarly accessible and productive fishing locations in Park County for anglers, water enthusiasts and other outdoor lovers to enjoy. We encourage everyone to take advantage of those areas while Antero Reservoir is unavailable. Additionally, fish from Antero Reservoir will be relocated within the county, which may even improve fishing at some of these other locations.


 

Resolve to conserve in 2015

2015 on snow at mountains
We all can take more steps to use water wisely. This year, make a resolution to conserve with these five easy steps:

  1. Look at the upper right corner of your bill. See that chart? That’s how much water you’re using on average per day. Each person in an average single-family house should use roughly 40 gallons inside per day. Aim for that number, or better yet, shoot for less!
  2. Rethink your fixtures. Some people think their 10-year-old toilet is efficient, when it probably isn’t. You can save on your water and sewer bill by replacing your toilets with an ultra-high-efficiency model. And as an added bonus, get a rebate for up to $150.
  3. Make a plan to modify part of your landscape. Winter is the perfect time to outline changes for your outside living area. Maybe your landscape could benefit from an efficient drip system, or maybe part of your Kentucky bluegrass could be replaced with low-water-use shrubs. Make those plans now so you’re ready for the upcoming spring planting season.
  4. If you see a spike in your water use, look for leaks. Ten percent of our customers have leaky toilets, faucets or other fixtures. Are you one of them?
  5. Talk about your water use. Maybe your neighbor has a landscape idea that would cut back on your water use. Maybe your friend found a leak in an unusual spot. Understanding how others conserve will help you too.

Find more water-saving tips at denverwater.org/conservation.

Nice ice!

skatingNice ice!

How the Colorado Avalanche turns Denver Water’s signature product into a pristine platform for the NHL’s swiftest skaters.

By Steve Snyder, with video by Jay Adams

It’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?

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