How is your water? Environmental group releases drinking water contaminant data
August 11, 2017
Grand County has a unique relationship with water, being the source of so many rivers, creeks and streams; but more than a few people who move to the region are surprised to find out about the quality of our drinking water.
While drinking water quality in Grand County would not be considered "bad" by most objective standards, there is a common misconception that local drinking water, so close to the source, requires little to no treatment. Alternatively, some believe that there are few contaminants with which local water districts or departments must contend.
Each year Environmental Working Group (EWG) gathers data on drinking water quality from municipal water departments and special water districts from throughout the nation. The data is gathered from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and from the EPA's Enforcement and Compliance History database. The data is not comprehensive but provides a snapshot of the contaminants detected in the local drinking water.
According to the data from EWG the Columbine Lake Water & Sanitation District the North Shore Water & Sanitation District and the Lake Forest Mutual Water Company all have the fewest contaminants in the county. The entities recorded no contaminants detected above health guidelines and only one contaminant detected overall.
Not far behind them was Tabernash Meadows Water & Sanitation, with one contaminant detected above health guidelines and one other contaminant detected, and the Shores of Shadow Mountain HOA, with no contaminants detected above health guidelines and two contaminants detected overall.
Right behind those two entities, according to the EWG data, is the Moraine Park water system, which had no contaminants detected above health guidelines and three contaminants detected overall. The Granby Jones Mobile Home Park was also near the top of the county in terms of water quality with two contaminants detected above health guidelines and one other contaminant detected.
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After that the picture becomes more complicated. The Town of Grand Lake records four contaminants above health guidelines and five other contaminants detected. The drinking water systems for both YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch and the Town of Kremmling recorded five contaminants above health guidelines and three other contaminants overall.
Next on the list is the Town of Granby with five contaminants detected above health guidelines and four other contaminants detected. After Granby comes the Town of Hot Sulphur Springs and Winter Park Ranch Water & Sanitation; both with six contaminants above health guidelines and three other contamination detections.
Winter Park Water & Sanitation and Grand County Water No. 1 were next on the list with six contaminants above health guidelines and five other contaminants detected. The Town of Fraser was next with seven contaminants detected above health guidelines and five other contaminants.
The Granby Silver Creek Water & Wastewater Authority had the dubious honor of having the most contaminant detections overall. The Authority tied Fraser for the highest number of contaminants detected above health guidelines with seven and had eight additional contaminants detected.
It should be noted that health guidelines are not the same thing as regulations or laws. Guidelines provide direction but allow for leeway in interpretation and are not enforced under penalty of law.
The EPA defines "contaminant" as "any physical, chemical, biological or radiological substance or matter in water." The EPA further states, "Drinking water may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. Some contaminants may be harmful if consumed at certain levels in drinking water. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk."