Archive for January, 2015

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.

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, we estimate that the reservoir will return to its normal operation by late 2017, 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?

We will begin draining the reservoir in June 2015. The park will be closed to the public beginning Monday, June 1, 2015, and will remain closed for the duration of the project. The park will reopen 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 has increased the bag and possession limit to eight fish, with no size restrictions. 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.

Check out this interactive map to see dozens of other recreational opportunities in Park County.


 

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