Quandary: Tracking Breckenridge’s water supply
Quandary, the old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to all questions about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Email your queries about Summit and the High Country to Quandary@summitdaily.com.
Where does Breckenridge’s water come from?
Ah, the difference between man and beast: I walk to a creek and am thrilled if there’s water in it, you walk to a creek and question the microbial activity. If you are willing to believe ’90s beer commercials, the folks in Breck just tap straight into the mountains and have a nice cold glass of snow water. Honestly, that’s not too far from the truth.
According to an email from the town’s communications director, Kim Dykstra, “The water provided by the town of Breckenridge comes from Hoosier Pass via the Blue River and into the Goose Pasture Tarn located in Blue River.” Doesn’t it sound majestic? When all those sparkling, individual snowflakes cascade onto the peaks, they start to melt away turning into the mountain stream water headed down a windy pass into a lager river finally to come to rest at the tarn. It’s down right inspirational.
However, once you pull your head out of the tarn and get down to brass tax, you realize Breck’s water isn’t all that different from that in the big city. After all, Denver pulls most of its water supply from that big water mass in the middle of the county, Lake Dillon. In either case, the water that comes out of your faucet is processed and tested long before it ever cleans your dirty dishes. The town of Breckenridge tests its water at regular intervals and makes the Water Quality Report readily available online.
It tests for a variety of microbial, radioactive, organic chemical and inorganic contaminants, as well as pesticides and herbicides. Basically if a goat with a cold sneezes in the tarn you’ll know about it — OK maybe not just one goat, but if the herd catches something, the microbial tests will show it. Inorganic matter is identified as salt and metals, along with runoff from farming or mining communities, which can also contribute to the radioactive contaminants. That doesn’t mean you need to freak out and assume the Blue is one Environmental Protection Agency intervention away from being the Orange, it just means that these contaminants are on everyone’s radar.
And just in case that doesn’t scare you enough, you can also access a Source Water Assessment Report, which is basically the Chicken Little of the contamination world. This report will identify any problems that could occur, meaning this would give you the doomsday scenario, but is not a reflection of what’s going on right now. It can be viewed online at wqcdcompliance.com/ccr or you can get your own personal copy by contacting Greg Altimari at (970) 453-3173.
Getting back to the here and now, Breckenridge’s most recent Water Quality Report shows it is up to snuff. Although there are contaminations, it’s nothing outside the normal range, so toughen up, a little copper can really help build your immune system. Now, the town did have a couple violations, but the problem lived in the process not the product. The information on these violations can be found at the back of the Water Quality Report, but I’m happy to give you the Reader’s Digest version: In one instance, the reporting standards changed from 2014 to 2015, so the sample size collected wasn’t big enough to meet the new requirement. The other violation sounds a little like I did when I’d procrastinate on a project as a kid: This particular sample needs to be collected in August, and after having one set rejected because it didn’t meet the temperature range, the next set also couldn’t be tested, but the town was not informed of this fact by the Accutest laboratory until September, making it impossible to collect a third sample.
Missed deadlines and dog-eaten homework aside, your freshly watered kids, plants and hounds are in good shape with the town water supply and things only look to improve as the second water treatment plant comes into being.
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