‘Ugh! Our water comes from there?’

How I helped a friend gain clarity about water quality with a Denver Water treatment plant tour.

April 18, 2017 | By: Steve Snyder
Water from Dillon Reservoir is diverted through the Harold D. Roberts Tunnel under the Continental Divide into the South Platte River before being sent to one of Denver Water's treatment plants.
Water from Dillon Reservoir is diverted through Roberts Tunnel under the Continental Divide into the South Platte River before being sent to one of Denver Water’s treatment plants.

My first thought wasn’t good: Was my friend really that uninformed?

He knew I worked at Denver Water. And one day we were talking about Dillon Reservoir, when I told him it was the largest storage reservoir feeding Denver’s water supply. His reaction to that was surprising.

“Ugh, our water comes from there?” he said. “There are boats riding around and all kinds of fish in the lake. How do you get that out of my water?!”

I had a hard time believing my friend didn’t realize there is a very extensive treatment process that takes place before the water ever comes to his home. But then again, I work for a water utility, and I deal with this information every day. Maybe I couldn’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak.

I encouraged my friend to see the process for himself by signing up for one of our public treatment plant tours. He took a tour of our Marston Treatment Plant with a number of other people, and afterward, his first words to me were quite telling.

“Yeah, it makes a lot more sense now,” he said. “I had no idea where the water came from or what you did with it, but seeing the whole picture puts everything into perspective.”

People on a tour of Marston Treatment Plant.
Nicole Babyak, Marston Treatment Plant supervisor, gives members from the Colorado Water Conservation Board a tour of the facility.

My friend’s reaction was a fairly common one. Most people who take our tours come away highly engaged and more informed about their water system. The tours start with a high-level overview of the three major parts of Denver Water’s operation: collection, treatment and distribution. Then tour-goers get an up-close look at nearly every aspect of the water treatment process.

“You can tell people everything we do with water treatment, but it doesn’t always hit home,” said Patty Brubaker, water treatment plant manager at Marston. “When they actually see it for themselves, that’s when it all clicks. It’s very gratifying to see.”

Denver Water’s public treatment plant tours are launching again this summer. Here are the list of dates and times:

  • Recycled Water Treatment Plant – Friday, May 5, 1-3 p.m.
  • Marston Treatment Plant – Friday, June 2, 1-3 p.m.
  • Moffat Treatment Plant – Friday, July 7, 1-3 p.m.
  • Marston Treatment Plant – Friday, Aug. 4, 1-3 p.m.
  • Recycled Water Treatment Plant – Friday, Sept. 8, 1-3 p.m.
  • Moffat Treatment Plant – Friday, Oct. 6, 1-3 p.m.

Space is limited on each tour, and you must be 18 or older to attend. You can sign up for the tours here, or contact me if you have more questions. We also ask visitors limit themselves to one tour per season.

And we encourage lots of questions on the tour. Questions help you stay informed about your water supply. Just ask my friend.

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