Archive for May, 2014

Recycled water system celebrates 10 years

The Denver Water Recycling Plant, pictured here, celebrates a decade of service.

The Denver Water Recycling Plant, pictured here, celebrates a decade of service.

Water is a precious resource here in the West, much too precious to use just once. That’s why Denver Water started a program to treat and recycle wastewater. There are more than a dozen wastewater recycling programs in Colorado, and Denver Water operates the largest recycled water system in the state.

And, the system is celebrating a milestone birthday …

Recycled water system celebrates 10 years

By Ann Baker, Denver Water Communications and Marketing

When Denver Water’s recycled water system opened a decade ago, it distributed water through nine miles of pipe to 12 large water users.

Since then, the system has grown seven times that size, sending water through 65 miles of pipe to more than 80 customers, including parks and golf courses, the Denver Zoo, schools, homeowners associations and industrial complexes, and has plans to expand even farther — to Denver International Airport and through central Denver.

Denver Water now supplies about 7,000 acre-feet of recycled water a year, which can be used for irrigation, industrial and commercial operations that do not require drinking water. Once buildout is complete, in the next 10 to 15 years, the recycled water system will deliver 17,500 acre-feet of water each year, freeing up enough drinking water to serve more than 43,000 households.

Each year, the system expands a bit farther. In 2013, Denver Water spent $4.3 million expanding the system, and connecting recycled water to Congress and Cheesman parks, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, as well as to 37 sites in the Montbello and Gateway Park neighborhoods and a few other sites along existing lines.

This year, Denver Water plans to work in areas that have major conduits leading to them but still need smaller distribution lines. That includes areas around Green Valley Ranch and North Stapleton. The cost for expanding the recycled system in 2014 is $1.1 million.

Learn more about recycled water:

  • Take a virtual tour of the recycled water treatment process.
  • Learn about recycled water quality standards.
  • Denver Water contracted with experts to evaluate recycled water quality, effects on soil, turf and trees and landscape management solutions. Read through our summary report and review additional resources on recycled water and plant life.
  • Want to know more? Check out the recycled water FAQ.
  • Watch this video to learn how recycled water is part of Denver Water’s multi-pronged approach to planning for the future:

Youth and water — what lies beneath

In 2014, Denver Water is scheduled to replace and rehabilitate 20 miles of pipe in the metro area.

In 2014, Denver Water is scheduled to replace and rehabilitate 20 miles of pipe in the metro area.

For the 2014 Youth and Water blog series, we’ve covered:

And, for the last post in this series, we’re taking you underground …

Week six: groundwater and infrastructure

There is a lot happening below the ground that you can’t see. Let’s discuss two of them.

Groundwater:

Even though the journey of water for Denver’s supply begins as surface water, groundwater is a very important part of the water cycle.

After it rains or snows, water infiltrates into the ground and percolates down through the spaces between soil, sand and rocks. Many people across Colorado and the world rely on groundwater for their water supply, and they use wells to pull groundwater up to the surface.

Infrastructure:

Once water has been treated at a treatment plant, it enters Denver Water’s distribution system, which includes a complex network of underground reservoirs and pipes. See steps six and eight in the journey of water.

Denver Water operates and maintains more than 3,000 miles of pipe — enough to stretch from L.A. to New York. With a significant portion of our system installed right after World War II, Denver Water is no stranger to main breaks and leaks. Check out Main breaks 101 — Raising our infrastructure GPA for a crash course on main breaks, including calculating water lost and learning more about our proactive programs to identify and minimize the water loss in our system.

On Jan. 18, 2014, crews poured more than 1,200 cubic yards of concrete throughout the day to create a 256-foot-diameter concrete base slab for a new underground storage tank at Ashland Reservoir.

On Jan. 18, 2014, crews poured more than 1,200 cubic yards of concrete throughout the day to create a 256-foot-diameter base slab for a new underground storage tank at Ashland Reservoir.

Denver Water is continually working to update its aging infrastructure, including current work on two underground treated water storage tanks in Centennial and Wheat Ridge. In the next decade, Denver Water plans to invest about $120 million on treated water storage tank projects.

Denver Water has 30 treated water storage tanks throughout its delivery system. Storing treated water throughout our system is important because it allows for us to meet the fluctuations in water use throughout the day, and it ensures water is always available for fire protection. While the storage tanks are continually monitored and adjusted, they are typically filled at night and drawn down during the day when customer use increases.

 

 

Online resources

 Charts, graphs & maps

Denver Water crews install or replace an average of 60,000 feet of pipe a year. Replacements are done for various reasons, including repairing or avoiding main breaks, replacing corroded pipe, alleviating water quality problems, increasing available hydrant fire flow and improving overall area delivery.

Denver Water crews install or replace an average of 60,000 feet of pipe a year. Replacements are done for various reasons, including repairing or avoiding main breaks, replacing corroded pipe, alleviating water quality problems, increasing available hydrant fire flow and improving overall area delivery.

Online activities

  • In National Geographic’s What is Groundwater? video, sixth grade students talk about what they have learned about groundwater.
  • Read the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s Citizen’s Guide to Denver Basin Groundwater to learn about local groundwater — how it played a part in Denver’s history and the current issues.

Recent water news

 

Youth and water – how do you use water?

In our Youth Education series, we’ve followed a snowflake from the time it lands in our watershed through the journey it takes within our distribution system, including the complex treatment process. We’ve also highlighted the importance of conserving our most precious resource — water.

But, have you ever thought about how you use water?

Denver Water is constantly thinking about how customers use water now, and how that use may change in the future. By analyzing customer water-use patterns, we are able to better plan for an adequate supply of clean, reliable water in the next 50 years and beyond.

Week five: Water demand

Because Denver Water serves a wide range of customers — single- and multi-family homes, parks, businesses and many others — that all use water differently, it is important for Denver Water to understand the complexities behind how each uses water.

Here is the breakdown of Denver Water’s total retail treated water use by category

Here is the breakdown of Denver Water’s total retail treated water use by category.

We then take those customer types, and analyze how they use their water.

For example, here is the average usage in a single-family home.

For example, here is the average usage in a single-family home.

The average Denver Water residential customer uses 85 gallons of water a day, which is about enough water to fill two bathtubs. However, this water usage can be influenced by many factors. The water used indoors can be influenced by the number of people in the household, as well as the type of fixtures and appliances in the home. Outdoor water use is influenced by temperature, precipitation and the size and type of the landscape.

Online resources

  • Do you know how much water your family uses? Students can view their past water use on Denver Water’s website. Students will have to enter their account number, which can be found on their family’s water bill.
  • Visit National Geographic’s Water Footprint activity page to get a better understanding of the amount of water used for growing food, producing energy and creating merchandise.
  • Which states use the most water? Analyze the U.S. Geological Survey map to find out.

Charts, graphs & maps

See how water use in 2013 was affected by the weather in this graph. You’ll notice that weather heavily influences water use during the summer months.

See how water use in 2013 was affected by the weather in this graph. You’ll notice that weather heavily influences water use during the summer months.

Online activities

  • Project Wet’s We All Use Water interactive activity takes students through all the different ways water is used every day.
  • Play National Geographic’s Water Wiz game to learn about your household’s water use.

Recent water news

 

 

Youth and water – clean, safe drinking water

Denver Water's teacher resource packet describes how Denver Water treats our water.

Denver Water’s Teacher Resource Packet highlights the Denver Water treatment process.

In honor of Drinking Water Week we are highlighting Denver Water’s work to provide clean, safe drinking water every day and recognizing the important role clean drinking water plays in our daily lives.

Week four: Water quality and water treatment

The first post in the Youth Education blog series covered watersheds, where our water quality work begins. Denver Water recognizes the importance of healthy watersheds, and has partnered with the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, to accelerate our mutual efforts to improve forest and watershed conditions.

We also learned about Denver’s water cycle. Denver Water monitors water quality every step of the journey from source to tap. In 2013, we collected more than 16,000 samples and conducted more than 60,000 tests to ensure our water is as clean and safe as possible.

Last week, we discussed the importance of conserving this precious resource that keeps our community vibrant and healthy, which is made possible by the many dedicated professionals at Denver Water who work around the clock to provide safe, clean drinking water every time you turn on the tap.

Online resources

  • Denver Water operates and maintains three treatment plants – Foothills, Marston and Moffat. Learn about the five steps of the water treatment process.
  • Drinking water is subject to very stringent regulations, like the Safe Drinking Water Act, that set standards for drinking water to protect against potential contaminants.
  • Visit Denver Water’s Frequently Asked Questions about Water Quality.
  • See the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s Citizen’s Guide to Colorado Water Quality Protection for a statewide look at water quality.There are many things we can do indoors and outdoors to reduce the chances of contaminants getting into our water supply and water supplies downstream – such as cleaning up pet waste, never putting anything down the storm drain, and using fertilizers sparingly.

Charts, graphs & maps

Denver Water’s 2014 Water Quality Report talks about the water system, the treatment process, and what is and is not in your water. Above, the table “Regulated Water Contaminants: What is in the water?” (from page 7 of the report) shows the results of water quality tests over the last year. See page 4 for a glossary of terms.

Denver Water’s 2014 Water Quality Report talks about the water system, the treatment process, and what is and is not in your water. Above, the table “Regulated Water Contaminants: What is in the water?” (from page 7 of the report) shows the results of water quality tests over the last year. See page 4 for a glossary of terms.

Online activities

Recent water news

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