Splash into National Hispanic Heritage Month

Experts spend time at local Latino community events talking all things water.

September 17, 2018 | By: Jose Salas
Aquaponic system for growing fish and plants at the GrowHaus, a nonprofit indoor farm in Denver's Elyria-Swansea neighborhood.
An aquaponic system for growing fish and plants at the GrowHaus, a nonprofit indoor farm in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood.

 

Our nation will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and this year’s theme is traditions.

This got us thinking.

One of Denver Water’s longstanding tradition is to bring its Water Trailer to community events and provide attendees with high-quality, ice-cold water. Denver Water employees volunteer their time to hydrate event-goers and share their knowledge about the liquid gold coming out of the faucet.

So, what better way to celebrate than by taking our tradition to our Hispanic communities for some fun in the sun?

In partnership with Denver City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, Clinica Tepeyac and others, we identified Spanish-speaking communities that would benefit from learning about Denver’s water quality.

Dr. Selene Hernandez-Ruiz, water quality lab manager for Denver Water, along with other Denver Water employees, are participating in three large events with a focus on providing education, tools and resources to ensure our Spanish-speaking communities are engaged and in the know.

“It is important for us as water and Hispanic leaders to help our community prosper by educating them on the water they receive,” said Hernandez-Ruiz. “Our commitment and first responsibility is to deliver safe water to our customers. We have to start with educating our communities to build trust.”

Goats drinking water provided Denver Water volunteers at an event at the GrowHaus.
Goats drinking water provided by Denver Water volunteers at an event at the GrowHaus.

The first event was on Sept. 8, at the GrowHaus’ 6th Annual Block Party near I-70 and York Street. It featured live music, ethnic dancing, activities for all ages, food trucks and even a couple of goats.

As the families arrived, cups of water were quickly distributed on the 90-plus degree afternoon.

While most adults seemed to shy away from conversation, the kids were a different story. Before we knew it, they flocked to Hernandez-Ruiz, inquiring about her scientific equipment, such as beakers, flashlights, a microscope and plastic containers.

This was our chance to talk to them about Denver’s water quality.

“Children are our future and that is why I focused on them. It is important to keep their water and health at an optimal level,” said Hernandez Ruiz.

Selene Hernandez-Ruiz, water quality lab manager for Denver Water, talks about water quality with children at the GrowHaus' 6th Annual Block Party on Sept. 8, 2018.
Selene Hernandez-Ruiz, water quality lab manager for Denver Water, talks about water quality with children at the GrowHaus’ 6th Annual Block Party on Sept. 8, 2018.

One of the children at the event was Enrique,  a 10-year-old boy who was buzzing around the event on his skateboard. He listened to Hernandez-Ruiz talk about her experiments, then skated off. But minutes later, Enrique was back with his grandma asking Hernandez-Ruiz to show his grandma what he had just learned.

We were able to explain that the delicious ice-cold water they were raving about was the exact same water we deliver to all Denver Water customers.

And, we know the drinking water is safe because we take tens of thousands of water samples from across our distribution system throughout the year.

The team also provided educational information on possible water quality issues looming in the home, including neglected water filters, corrosion from water heaters and the potential for customer-owned lead service lines and plumbing.

“I’m a Denver Water customer as well. I drink the water from the tap, and my kids drink the water too,” Hernandez-Ruiz said. “It is important for us to reach out personally and teach communities about concentrations of lead that can be introduced from people’s homes. It is paramount that we obtain and share such information with our customers to work together and minimize health risks.”

More than 15 families signed up for a complimentary lead testing kit. (To learn more on if your home is at risk for having lead plumbing and what you can do to protect your family, read “Anytime is a good time to test for lead in your water.”)

The second event was held Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Johnson Recreation Center.

The last event will be on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Valdez-Perry Branch Library from noon to 2 p.m. and is free to the public. So, if you’re in the neighborhood or have some free time, we invite you to come and say hello, fill your water bottle and chat with our experts about your water.

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