Archive for the ‘Your Denver Water’ Category

It’s time to TAP in!

We’ve moved to denverwaterTAP.org — stop by and hydrate your mind today.

By Denver Water staff

Hello! Thanks for stopping by to check out some of the freshest water content west of the Mississippi. Or east, for that matter. This is the blog formerly known as Mile High Water Talk, and up until now, it’s been the place to turn for stories, videos and all things Denver Water and beyond. … But not anymore!

Introducing TAP: News to hydrate your mind!

 

As we often say, water is the most important issue in Colorado, if not the entire West, and our employees are some of the nation’s leading experts when it comes to the wet stuff.

We want TAP to be the hub you can turn to for answers and information about our most precious natural resource.

So, head over to denverwaterTAP.org now and be sure to subscribe to a weekly email featuring TAP’s top headlines from the past week. You can also check out the latest from our Twitter and Instagram feeds, as well as featured photos, videos, quizzes, poll questions, opportunities to meet and contact the TAP news team, and much more.

This does mean that this site, denverwaterblog.org, our trusty blog of nearly four years, will no longer receive new content. If you’ve grown accustomed to seeing email alerts every time we post a new story, make sure you subscribe to our weekly TAP email. Same great content delivered in a different package!

Don’t worry. Change is good. It’s time to TAP in!

Lessons from a former Kool-Aid kid

Why drinking water between meals is a better alternative to the sugary drinks of yesterday — and today.

By Jessica Mahaffey

I was a Kool-Aid kid.

The sweet drink fueled my summertime adventures in Waterton Canyon. I remember whipping up my cousin Matt’s favorite flavor (orange) instead of my favorite (grape) because my mom insisted I be polite to guests.

But oh, how times have changed. Today’s parents are replacing pitchers of Kool-Aid with seemingly healthier options like milk, sports drinks and fruit juices.

But these “healthy” drinks can have surprisingly large amounts of sugar, a point powerfully illustrated in Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation’s Cavities Get Around campaign about the link between what kids are drinking and childhood tooth decay.

 

 

What’s the big deal about sugar? Dental health experts say sugar fuels cavities and impacts oral health. According to the foundation, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting more than 40 percent of kindergartners in Colorado. More than half of all children in our state will experience tooth decay by the third grade. Children in Hispanic and low-income communities — where there is mistrust of tap water — are disproportionately impacted.

“Poor oral health can set children up for a lifelong struggle,” said Wyatt Hornsby, campaign director at Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. “It’s hard to form words, focus in school, sleep and play when you’re in pain. That’s why we’re focusing on one of the root causes of tooth decay in kids: sugar.”

How much sugar is in these drinks? More than you might think.

 

Beverage Serving Size (ounces) Sugar (teaspoons) Sugar (grams)
Kool-Aid 8 oz 4.4 tsp 22g
Orange Juice 8 oz 6.6 tsp 33g
Apple Juice Box 6.8 oz 4.2 tsp 21g
Grape Juice 8 oz 7.2 tsp 36g
Gatorade 8 oz 4.2 tsp 21g
Chocolate Milk 8 oz 4.8 tsp 24g

 

So what does this have to do with us? Water, of course.

Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation encourages parents to limit sugary drinks at home and school and serve only water between meals and at bedtime.

“Our research has shown that juices and sugary drinks are major sources of sugar for many children,” said Hornsby.  “Water, on the other hand, helps protect a child’s teeth from decay when it’s from the tap and contains fluoride.”

Consider this Kool-Aid kid reformed.

A family stops at the water trailer this summer to enjoy a cup of Denver Water. “I love water because it keeps me healthy and happy” (left). “I value water because it makes me strong” (right).

 

Faces behind the tap: A photo year in review

Take a journey through the water system and meet some of the 1,100 experts working day and night to keep the water flowing.

Jessica Mahaffey jumping for joy at Williams Fork Reservoir

Jessica Mahaffey, Denver Water’s marketing specialist, back at Williams Fork Reservoir where she grew up as a caretakers daughter.

By Travis Thompson

The best part of my job is going behind the scenes with experts across hundreds of different specialties to help tell the story of Denver Water.

I’ve gone underground with crews upgrading the water distribution system, battled a blaze with first responders during a multi-alarm fire and even hit the slopes with scientists planning for climate change.

While each piece is unique, the one constant is the dedicated and experienced employees behind each story.

With more than 1,100 professionals working around the clock, there’s a good chance you’re more connected to these experts than you think. A parent at your child’s school, someone in your book club or even a relative may be part of the Denver Water family.

As 2016 comes to an end, we’re taking a look back at these water pros in action, working hard to ensure you’ve had a clean and reliable drinking supply this year — and for many more to come.

Who knows, you may even recognize a face or two.

Cheers!

Breaking point: Temperature swings tough on water pipes

With the ups and downs of winter weather in Colorado, repair crews are clamping down on main breaks across Denver.

By Jay Adams

 

 

Denver winters can feel like a rollercoaster ride — cold and snowy one day, mild and sunny the next. All those ups and downs make for interesting weather forecasts, but those temperature swings also take a toll on water mains under city streets.

Through Dec. 20, Denver Water crews had fixed more than 318 water main breaks this year. Of those, nearly 20 percent were linked to dramatic changes in temperature.

Temperature breaks, technically called “shear breaks,” are caused when the ground shifts due to changes in the weather.

Shear breaks occur during prolonged cold spells and fast warm-ups.

When temperatures drop, the ground freezes, causing water molecules inside the soil to expand. The longer the temperature stays below freezing, the deeper the frost layer stretches below the surface. The frozen soil puts stress on top of the pipes and can cause them to crack.

A pipeline mechanic removes dirt from a broken water main to identify the leak.

A pipeline mechanic removes dirt from a broken water main to identify the leak.

Pipes are also prone to crack when the weather warms up quickly after a cold spell. As the ground warms, the water molecules shrink and the ground shifts.

“The ground freezes and thaws all the time during the winter here in Denver,” said Ed Romero, water distribution foreman. “Any little bit of movement in the ground can end up splitting a pipe.”

Crews can identify a temperature break because the crack looks like a line was drawn around the pipe with a marker.

Older pipes are more vulnerable to temperature breaks due to the ongoing stress of the freeze and thaw cycle over time.

Denver Water crews can usually fix a temperature break by digging up the street and placing a stainless steel repair clamp around the crack on the pipe.

Pipeline mechanics bolting on a repair clamp, which is commonly used to fix water mains after temperature breaks.

Pipeline mechanics bolting on a repair clamp, which is commonly used to fix water mains after temperature breaks.

“Repair clamps are very effective ways to fix broken water mains after a temperature break,” Romero said. “The clamp forms a tight seal and will not let any water out of the pipe.”

When pipes are replaced or installed, Denver Water reduces the risk of temperature breaks by putting a sand-gravel mix around the pipes to provide a cushion when the ground shifts.

Temperature swings and ground shifts are just one cause of water main breaks. Other factors include age and material of the pipe, corrosion, the type of soil and the amount of water pressure running through the pipe. All of these factors can weaken sections of the water main and lead to more complicated breaks and repairs.

“We see lots of temperature extremes here in Denver and lots of different types of pipe breaks,” Romero said. “Some breaks are easy to fix, others can take hours, even days to repair.”

Name that holiday tune

How well do you know your favorite holiday songs? Some Denver Water employees take a crack at crooning the classics.

By Steve Snyder

We’ve all done it at some point.

The radio comes on with a catchy holiday carol, and you instinctively start singing along — until you get to that part you don’t know. Suddenly a singalong turns into a hum-along.

At Denver Water, we’re proud to have people who are considered experts in their field, working in hundreds of jobs across our system. But how does their knowledge of holiday song lyrics stack up? You be the judge.

 

Two small steps that add up to big water savings

Third-graders hit the streets in their neighborhood to teach adults how to make their homes more water-efficient.

By Jay Adams

 

 

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can make the biggest difference. Just ask the people who live around Denver Green School.

This fall they opened their doors to third-grade students who taught them two simple and inexpensive ways they could save water.

With a little help from Matt Bond, Denver Water’s Youth Education manager, the students went door-to-door to ask neighbors if they’d be willing to swap out their old sink aerators and showerheads for lower-flow, high-efficiency models.

Matt Bond, youth education manager, explains how faucet aerators and showerheads can save water.

Matt Bond, youth education manager, explains how faucet aerators and showerheads can save water.

“The fixtures are easy to install and can make a big difference in the amount of water people use in their homes,” Bond said.

“It’s fun teaching people about water,” said Ahnika Campagna, one of about 50 third-graders who hit the streets. “I like teaching adults new things.”

At the first home, students found a bathroom sink with a faucet that flowed at 2.2 gallons of water per minute. They installed a new aerator that only used a half-gallon per minute.

The next stop were the showers, each of which had 2-gallon-per-minute showerheads. The group swapped out the old ones for 1.5 gallon-per-minute fixtures.

“Most people don’t even know how much water their faucets and showers use,” Bond said. “By making these simple changes, this homeowner will end up saving hundreds — perhaps thousands — of gallons of water every year.”

Denver Green School teachers Julie Yonkus and Emily Detmer worked with Bond to develop the water education unit for their students. In past years, the kids went around the neighborhood and put up “Use Only What You Need” yard signs.

Students learned how low-flow faucet aerators can save water.

Students gained first-hand experience about how simple steps in the home can reduce water consumption.

“This year, we wanted to do something that was really hands-on and could made an immediate difference in the amount of water being used in our community,” Yonkus said. “This was a great way to take what we learned about water in the classroom and apply it in the real world.”

Homeowner Donna Pate appreciated the water-saving tips. “I had no idea there were so many simple things I could do to save water,” she said.

“We hope the students take what they’ve learned, hold onto that knowledge for the rest of their lives and share it with their family, friends and neighbors,” Detmer said.

Warm weather, wildfires and watersheds

How reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires improves the quality of water flowing into our reservoirs.

By Steve Snyder

Not cool, bro.

Land near Cheesman Reservoir was severely damaged after the 2002 Hayman Fire.

Watershed lands near Denver Water’s Cheesman Reservoir were severely damaged after the 2002 Hayman Fire.

That’s one way to describe the warm, dry fall we experienced in Colorado this year, not only from a temperature standpoint, but from a broader view of what these conditions mean to our water supply.

Denver Water gets almost all of its supply from mountain snowmelt, so the lack of snow so far is a bit concerning. But weather like this also has a big impact on another part of our system — our watersheds. As melting snow travels downhill, it may pass through forests, farmland and even commercial, industrial and urban areas. This land is called a watershed, and it directly impacts the quality of water that eventually gathers in Denver Water’s reservoirs.

And warm fall weather only increases the risk of wildfires in our watersheds. In fact, a recent paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests the effects of climate change are making forests in the Western United States drier and easier to burn, thus increasing the risk for large, catastrophic wildfires.

“Catastrophic wildfires in our watersheds have impacts on so many levels,” said Christina Burri, a watershed scientist at Denver Water. “They are devastating for communities and the environment, but they also impact our water quality. When water runs through watersheds scorched by catastrophic fires, rainfall picks up sediment and ash which harms the water quality in our streams and reservoirs.”

Climate change makes it even more challenging to protect watersheds against catastrophic wildfires, she said. “This year is a perfect example. The wildfire season is longer, and the risks are greater.”

But Denver Water works with other agencies and local communities to mitigate those risks, Burri said.

From Forests to Faucets, a partnership between Denver Water and the U.S. Forest Service, focuses on forest treatment and watershed protection projects in priority watersheds critical to Denver Water’s water supply.

Through the Upper South Platte Partnership, Denver Water works with local landowners, government officials and other community members to manage forests and protect and improve the health of the watershed in counties where our water supplies flow.

And Denver Water planners work directly with communities to ensure public drinking water resources are kept safe from future contamination. Denver Water worked with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Coalition for the Upper South Platte to create a source water protection plan for the Upper South Platte Watershed and implement that plan with Park, Douglas, Jefferson, and Teller counties.

A restored and thinned forest in Jefferson County in the Upper South Platte Watershed.

A restored and thinned forest in Jefferson County in the Upper South Platte watershed is much less susceptible to catastrophic wildfires.

“Our watersheds are the first filter through which our source waters run,” said Burri. “We have a really good source of water in our system, but if we don’t have a healthy filter for it, it causes more challenges down the line when we treat water. We have to make sure those filters are in the best shape possible.”

Preserving the environment and promoting high-quality water. Now that is cool, bro.

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