Craftsmen pedal journey of water to schoolkids

Water Wall highlights ingenuity at Denver Water

August 20, 2015 | By: Jay Adams
Denver Water craftsmen who built the water wall. Thomas Mabe, Construction Shop foreman; Terry Barker, welder; Buck Young, welder, Paul Archuleta, plumber; Jeff Gulley, plumber; Dale Conn, Plumbing Shop foreman; Keith Gillest, plumber.
Denver Water craftsmen who built the water wall. Thomas Mabe, Construction Shop foreman; Terry Barker, welder; Buck Young, welder, Paul Archuleta, plumber; Jeff Gulley, plumber; Dale Conn, Plumbing Shop foreman; Keith Gillest, plumber.

It may look pretty simple, but behind Denver Water’s new Journey of Water wall is a story of ingenuity, commitment and determination.

The interactive display highlights water’s journey from a reservoir to a treatment plant using energy from a bicycle to push water through a series of pipes and fixtures.

But a closer look reveals the dedicated Denver Water professionals who work behind the scenes every day to make sure 1.3 million people have water to drink.

Denver Water’s Youth Education manager, Matt Bond, worked with local engineer Chad Weaver to create a preliminary design. A team of skilled craftsmen — Denver Water plumbers, metal shop workers and a carpenter— took it from there and built the wall from scratch.

“We had a schematic design, but most of it was just trial and error,” said Dale Conn, plumbing shop foreman.

The challenges of building the water wall provide a snapshot of the type of work Denver Water’s tradesmen do on a daily basis.

Students have fun playing and learning with the Water Wall at the Denver Metro Water Festival at the Auraria Campus in May.
Students take the water wall display for a spin during the 2015 Denver Metro Water Festival

Conn’s team had to find a way to get water to flow from one end of the wall to the other. When the bike didn’t provide enough pressure to run water through the wall, plumbers Paul Archuleta, Keith Gillest, Jeff Gulley and John Martinez found different sized pipes and configurations to make it work.

When the wall needed a stand, welders Terry Barker, Buck Young and Ed Ramirez built a metal frame.

“We listened to what they needed, drew a sketch and then just figured it out. That’s just what we do,” Barker said.

When the plumbers needed a prototype wall, carpenter Thomas Mabe built one from scratch. “It was good teamwork getting this to run,” Mabe said. “I enjoyed it — the project was something different and we did it all for the kids.”

Conn hopes the wall will help kids and customers understand the skill of the tradesmen and women at Denver Water. “Most people think all plumbers do is fix toilets, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the scope of work we do here,” he said.

The wall got its first test at the Denver Metro Water Festival in May and will be used as an educational tool throughout the year.

“We really want kids to know what it takes to get water to their homes. It really is quite a journey,” said Archuleta.

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