When painting a mental picture of Colorado, most would imagine snow-capped mountain peaks and green evergreen forests. There are beautiful locations in Colorado that look just that way.
However, there are many areas in the state that are considered high desert plain regions. Like other types of desert areas, rainfall totals are low and water sources are scarce.
Colorado experiences a challenging water procurement problem and has used innovative methods to ensure its citizens have access to potable water. The water in many public supplies has covered long distances facing many natural and manmade non-toxic and toxic contaminants.
This travel and exposure create a scenario where much of the water used by Colorado residents is hard. It has also likely experienced some aggressive treatment to ensure it is safe to consume.
Common Water Problems by City
Colorado is a diverse state that deals with water sourcing challenges by transporting water long distances from the source. Each community deals with its own water problems but there are also some similarities across the state.
South Platte River
Dillon Reservoir Feeders
Watershed Above Fraser River
Distant Mountain Streams
Various Nearby Creeks
High Mineral Content
South Platte River
The mile-high city sources its water from one of the most pristine sources in the country. Snowpack from atop the Rocky Mountains contributes to the various rivers, creeks, and streams that feed the five reservoirs holding water for Denver residents.
Clean water is still susceptible to the mineral deposits that create a condition called hard water. Hard water is the primary concern for those fortunate enough to call Denver home.
Hard water is not dangerous to consume. However, bathing in it can create some annoying symptoms. Many complain of dry skin or an itchy scalp after showering or taking a bath in hard water.
Appliances and plumbing can also experience negative impacts if hard water is consistently present. Dishwashers and air conditioners can become inefficient and severe buildup of limescale can lead to plumbing problems.
Colorado Springs rests in one of the aforementioned high desert regions. The Rockies are within sight and do supply water to the region. However, the water travels almost 200 miles through streams, canals, and pipes to reach the area.
Water is also sourced from nearby streams as a supplement to the almost 75% that travels long distances to get to the treatment facilities. Water is stored in either the Catamount or Rampart Reservoir and is sent on for treatment as needed.
Like most water sources, water filling these reservoirs is susceptible to a variety of contaminants along its travels. Pesticides, sewage overflow, and livestock runoff all contribute viral and bacterial contaminants to the supply.
Fortunately, water treatment removes the majority of these contaminants before they reach homes or businesses. This treatment creates its own problems like poor tasting water and hard water quality.
Hard water can lead to dry skin after bathing and issues with plumbing if limescale build-ups occur.
The Poudre River and Horsetooth Reservoir giving Fort Collins all the water it may need. The water sourced from these bodies of water is relatively clean and faces little in the way of biological contaminants.
The negative impacts of mineral absorption are felt in the way of hard water. This condition leads to dry skin after bathing for some people. In other cases, plumbing can be impacted by a buildup of limescale. Limescale also lowers the efficiency of water-using appliances.
Aurora, Colorado takes great pride in its water quality. It encourages residents and visitors to “really taste” their water straight from the faucet. Sourcing from three rivers primarily fed by melting snowpack, the water is fairly clean even before enduring the treatment process.
However, even the best water facilities often struggle to deal with hard water. The mineral absorption that occurs as water moves over and through the earth’s surface creates hard water. It can lead to dry skin after using it to bathe. Hard water is also to blame for some appliance inefficiencies and in severe cases can lead to plumbing problems.