Posts Tagged ‘Denver Water’

A tale of two tunnels: How the Moffat Tunnel conquered the divide

The water tunnel is the pilot bore next to the famous railroad tunnel, pictured here in 1956.

The water tunnel runs parallel to the famous railroad tunnel, pictured here in 1956.

A tale of two tunnels: How the Moffat Tunnel conquered the divide 

The Moffat Tunnel changed the way Denver Water provided a reliable water supply to its earliest customers.

By Steve Snyder

This week, 9News and History Colorado provided a historical perspective on the Moffat Tunnel. Eighty-seven years ago, that tunnel changed the way railroad travelers traversed the Continental Divide. But the Moffat Tunnel would provide groundbreaking implications when it came to water delivery as well.

In the early 1920s, the Denver Water Board (as Denver Water was called then) was a fledgling utility searching for additional water to serve a growing city. The water provider had already secured additional water rights from Colorado’s West Slope, but getting that water over the Continental Divide and into existing infrastructure was problematic. Necessity would soon meet innovation.

As David Moffat’s railroad company started construction of a tunnel to provide fast train service through the Rocky Mountains, it also bored a parallel tunnel to be used by their workers to access the main tunnel each day. Denver Water Board members saw potential in that access tunnel, envisioning that it could be reconfigured to bring water from the Fraser River on the West Slope to Denver Water’s South Platte River system on the Front Range.

Workers pose for a photo in the Moffat Water Tunnel in this 1930 photo.

Workers pose for a photo in the Moffat Water Tunnel in this 1930 photo.

In 1922, that dream became reality when the Colorado Legislature created the Moffat Tunnel Improvement District and Commission to oversee the project. Workers completed the parallel tunnel and partially lined it by June of 1936, and the first waves of water flowed through. Following the severe drought of 1950, the tunnel was enlarged again, and lining was completed in 1958. Initially, the federal government owned the tunnel and leased it back to Denver Water. After 30 years, the tunnel became Denver Water’s property.

Denver Water still relies on the Moffat water tunnel today. The 6.2-mile tunnel can deliver up to 100,000 acre-feet of water a day, providing an important source of water for Denver Water customers. The Moffat Tunnel and its parallel bore are engineering marvels — a credit to the foresight of Denver Water’s founding fathers.*

 

*Information for this article came from Patricia Nelson Limerick’s book A Ditch in Time – The City the West and Water.

Do you know your snowpack?

Do you know your snowpack?

9 facts about Colorado snowpack: what it is, why it’s important and how we tell how much of it we have.

By Steve Snyder

You may have seen this map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service of Colorado. It shows how much snowpack we have in Colorado this year compared to normal. But what is normal? For that matter, what is snowpack, and what does it have to do with our water supply? Our Denver Water experts answer these questions and more in the slideshow below:

Sunk trash truck tale has happy ending

The tires of a new Denver Public Works trash truck became stuck after driving over a temporary road patch that was weakened by a water pipe leak on south Jasmine Street near east Mexico Avenue in southeast Denver.

The tires of a new Denver Public Works trash truck became stuck after driving over a temporary road patch weakened by a water pipe leak in southeast Denver.

Sunk trash truck tale has happy ending

By Travis Thompson

As snow clouds loomed last Saturday morning, a trash truck found itself stuck down to its axle in a road patch that seemed like quicksand. Begging the question, what happened?

The answer starts with a story about Denver Water’s pipe replacement program, which evaluates the 3,000 miles of water pipeline in our system to prioritize the pipes most in need of replacement. And, considering the average pipe in our system is 44 years old, there are plenty of good candidates.

In early February, Denver Water began a project to replace about 3,000 feet of corroded cast-iron pipe in southeast Denver.

“This old pipe is in bad shape,” said Gabe Lombardi, the Denver Water foreman working on the replacement project. “We’ve been out here a lot recently responding to issues. If we weren’t proactively replacing this pipe now, we would definitely be here again soon responding to more breaks.”

Jose Saldivar, Denver Water  mechanic, connecting a service line to the new 6-inch-diameter water main on south Jasmine Street.

Jose Saldivar, Denver Water mechanic, connects a customer to the new 6-inch-diameter water pipe.

Work was moving quickly, and the crew had nearly all of the customers connected to the new pipe at the end of last week as they wrapped up work before the weekend.

But just as quickly as the weather deteriorated, so did the 60-year-old water pipe, which blew out as the winter storm blew in across the metro area Friday afternoon.

An emergency crew quickly repaired the old pipe and patched the road so all customers had water service and an accessible street for the weekend.

Or so we thought. The following morning Denver Water received a call from Denver Public Works alerting us that their shiny new trash truck was stuck in the road.

“I immediately knew that the old pipe had something to do with it,” Lombardi said. “There is no way the road base would have just washed away because of the snow like that.”

Lombardi’s instincts were spot-on. After the truck was towed out of the hole — fortunately with no injuries or damage — Lombardi’s crew dug back down to the old main and discovered a new leak. The leak had turned the temporary patch into a marshy mess. The crew quickly fixed the problem by Saturday afternoon.

Today, the last few customers are being connected to the new water pipe, and the street will be completely repaved within the week.

Most important, the old, troublesome section of this water main will officially be decommissioned.

“Now, I think we can all see why this pipe was identified to be replaced,” said Lombardi. “I’m just glad we were able to replace it before it became a bigger issue for this community.”

On Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, Denver Water repaired a 6-inch-diameter water pipe leak after a Denver Public Works trash truck was towed out from a washed-out road patch.

On Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, Denver Water repaired a 6-inch-diameter water pipe leak after a Denver Public Works trash truck was towed out of a washed-out road patch.

Water at work on the mountain

A crew at Winter Park Resort makes snow this past November. This — and other — local ski areas rely on Denver Water to make snow each year. Photo courtesy of Winter Park.

Water at work on the mountain

By Jay Adams

Denver Water isn’t just good for drinking, it’s also good for skiing ­— and at one of Colorado’s oldest ski resorts, Denver Water delivers water for snowmaking right on the mountain.

The Vasquez Canal, completed in 1936 to divert water from Grand County through the Moffat Tunnel, just happened to be right in the middle of the Winter Park ski area when it opened in 1940.

The location of the canal proved to be ideal when the resort started making snow in 1976. Denver Water worked with the resort on an agreement to use the water, and a pump station was built right on top of the canal.

Extra credit“The canal makes it easy because it’s already diverted water we’re pulling from the canal right on our mountain,” said Doug Laraby, Winter Park Resort director of Planning and Development. “It’s a reliable source of water that guarantees an early-November opening.”

Winter Park uses about 3 million gallons of water a day and 65-75 million gallons of water each year for snowmaking. That much water would serve as many as 575 households, or 1,500 people, for one year.

Winter Park’s pump station sits right next to a Denver Water Vasquez Canal gauge station, which is checked regularly by Denver Water utility workers Kyle Keller and Dave Shaw. The two drive snowmobiles up and down the ski runs to access the gauging station where they measure how much water is running through the canal.

“It’s pretty cool,” Keller said. “Not everyone gets to ride snowmobiles, and we get to ride them for work.”

The ski area and Denver Water have developed a strong partnership over the years. “Denver Water has a big job to do moving water on the mountain, and we have a big job keeping skiers happy,” Laraby said.

Left to right: Dave Shaw, Denver Water utility worker; Kyle Keller, Denver Water utility worker; and Bob Dart, Winter Park director of mountain maintenance; standing in front of the resort’s pump house. The pump house sits on top of the Vasquez Canal.

Left to right: Dave Shaw, Denver Water utility worker; Kyle Keller, Denver Water utility worker; and Bob Dart, Winter Park director of mountain maintenance; in front of the resort’s pump house, which sits on top of Denver Water’s Vasquez Canal.

The most important water issues of 2014 – a Denver Water perspective

In February 2014, Jim Lochhead (left) stood with James Eklund, Colorado Water Conservation Board director, and Karen Stiegelmeier, Summit County Commissioner, to celebrate the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement.

In February 2014, Jim Lochhead (left) stood with James Eklund, Colorado Water Conservation Board director, and Karn Stiegelmeier, Summit County Commissioner, to celebrate the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement.

The most important water issues of 2014 – a Denver Water perspective

Denver Water’s Jim Lochhead weighs in on a recent article chronicling key water issues of importance

By Steve Snyder

Water is our business, so we pay careful attention to any water-related stories that are published. Recently, the Huffington Post posted “The 10 Most Important Water Stories in 2014,” listing the issues people should pay attention to surrounding this most critical natural resource. It comes as no surprise that many of the national and international issues identified in the story are also top of mind in our day-to-day operations at Denver Water.

With that in mind, we asked Denver Water CEO and Manager Jim Lochhead to talk about what he thought were some key takeaways regarding water issues in 2014 from a Denver Water perspective.

“In my mind, two words summarize where our focus was in 2014 and will be moving forward,” Lochhead said. “Those words are collaboration and adaptation.”

“From a collaboration standpoint, we can’t approach our water issues with an ‘us vs. them’ mentality,” he said. “Whether we are looking at challenges within our own state or those occurring across the Colorado River Basin or beyond, our solutions should not be guided by the same politics and parochialism that have marked past decades. We must work together to find sustainable solutions that work for all parties involved.”

Lochhead cited the Colorado River System Conservation Program, the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership (WISE), the Grand County Mitigation and Enhancement Coordination Plan, and the State Water Plan as examples of collaborative efforts Denver Water was involved in last year, working with multiple, diverse stakeholders to find solutions for water challenges.

And what about 2015?

“Adaptation will be critical to us moving forward,” Lochhead continued. “The past is no longer a reliable predictor of the future, so we have to be adaptable and flexible in our long-term visioning. Whether it’s dealing with the impacts of climate change, working with the flexibility we have in transferring ownership of water resources, or planning for future growth and development, we have to adapt to the conditions in which we are working.”

Read the complete story on HuffPost Green.

The legend of the $4 toilet

Rebates are available to customers who receive a water bill from Denver Water or one of these Master Meter districts.

Rebates are available to customers who receive a water bill from Denver Water or one of these Master Meter districts.

The legend of the $4 toilet

By Travis Thompson

Have you heard about the $4 toilet? The tale originated with Vanessa McGrady, a Forbes Magazine contributor with “consumer superpowers.”

In the story, McGrady struggles with her nine-year-old toilet to the point of needing to double- and triple-flush. After numerous DIY attempts to fix it and a call to a local plumber, she decides she’s had enough. She purchases a toilet for $129, uses the $125 rebate from her water provider and is left on the hook for a mere $4.

Check it out: The Story of the $4 Toilet And 7 Other Ways To Save The World 

But this is no fable. Water providers across the country offer rebates when customers install water-saving devices. In 2014, Denver Water provided rebates for nearly 12,000 WaterSense toilets — saving an estimated 140 million gallons of water.

Even Denver Water customers who may not see their water bill, like apartment and condo dwellers, are still eligible for a rebate.

“These customers can make a huge impact,” explained Jeff Tejral, Denver Water’s manager of Conservation. “I challenge them to not only contact their community manager to upgrade the toilet in their unit, but to have the entire complex upgraded. It’ll reduce the water and electric bills.”

By following the seven water-saving tips at the end of McGrady’s story, in combination with our Tips and Tools, you have everything you need to help “save the world,” one drop at a time.

And, sharing the legend of the $4 toilet is a great place to start.

A dig to remember: Turning on the tap in Guatemala

Marty Buckstein, water distribution foreman, traveled with a church group to drill a well in the village of Monrovia, Guatemala.

Marty Buckstein, water distribution foreman, traveled with a church group to drill a well in the village of Monrovia, Guatemala.

A dig to remember: Turning on the tap in Guatemala

By Jay Adams

The group rolled into the small Guatemalan village to a hero’s welcome. Men, women and children cheered as the humanitarian team from the U.S. brought in their knowledge, compassion and a water-drilling rig. The mission: drill a 290-foot well in a week.

Marty Buckstein, a Denver Water foreman who spends his days working on water pipes, took time off from the streets of Denver last fall and traveled to Guatemala with the group from Littleton Bible Chapel.

“The people in the village are very receptive,” Buckstein said. “It’s like a parade when we come in.”

Monrovia is a small village in Guatemala where women and children walk a quarter-mile one way to reach a creek. They fill up large jugs with water and carry them on their heads back to the village. The water is dirty and would be considered undrinkable in the U.S. But in this village, there is no other option.

Drilling a 290-foot deep well required long hours and hard work.

Drilling a 290-foot-deep well required long hours and hard work.

On this trip, a travel issue cut down on the group’s time to drill the well. Instead of five days, they had four. The group got right to work and the villagers jumped in to help. “We give them jobs to do and work hand-in-hand with them, so they are earning it, too,” he said.

Buckstein said the work was demanding, but incredibly rewarding. “You’ll never meet a happier group of people, which really makes it rewarding to help them.”

After four long days, and surrounded by darkness, all eyes were on the well. Buckstein’s group and the villagers watched anxiously as water flowed out of the tap. “It was an emotional moment. There were a lot of tears and hugs,” he said.

The trip was Buckstein’s fifth in eight years and one he hopes to take every year. “I just love the trips,” he said. “Not only is it something that helps people, it’s a self-fulfillment and spiritual thing for me.”

Buckstein said he highly recommends humanitarian trips for everyone. “It’s just such an eye-opener. No amount of money can give you that feeling of helping others. It’s just a good feeling.”

Prayers were answered with a successful new well on the fourth night in the village.

Prayers were answered with a successful new well on the fourth night in the village.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 128 other followers

%d bloggers like this: