Hot Suplhur Springs water deemed safe again after more than two months
Sky-Hi Daily News
After more than two months of drinking boiled or bottled water, the residents of Hot Sulphur Springs can now drink the water that comes from their faucets.
“The Colorado Department of Health has lifted the boil-water order effective today,” said Mayor Hershal Deputy. “The water is now safe to drink.”
The state’s health department imposed the water restriction order on April 7 after the turbidity (cloudiness) of the water at the town’s water filtration plant reached levels that exceeded the state’s safe-water standards. The order required that all drinking and cooking water be boiled for at least one minute prior to use.
The boil-water order was lifted Wednesday after the state agency reviewed the town’s latest water samples.
“The flushings, the chlorine and the bac-T samples were all reviewed by the Department of Health, which found them to be in compliance with state standards,” Deputy said. “That’s why the order was lifted.”
What has kept Hot Sulphur’s water problem from turning into a disaster is that the town’s water plant still functioned and continued to supply to homes and businesses.
During the past two months, residents were allowed to flush their toilets, wash their clothes and shower in the water that came out of their taps.
To further help the town’s residents deal with the situation, free bottled water was given away at Hot Sulphur’s Town Hall.
“I really want to commend the citizens of Hot Sulphur Springs for being so supportive and understanding through this situation,” Deputy said. “However, we are still asking our residents to adhere to the outdoor water restrictions and to continue to conserve water. We have to be careful with our water resource, especially with one of our filters currently off-line.”
Work to repair Hot Sulphur Springs’ water plant is continuing. Its Filter #2 is online and functioning, but repair work is still being done on Filter #1.
Deputy said that in addition to the lifting of the boil-water order, the town also got more good news this week. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs has awarded it a $200,000 Energy Impact Grant for the construction of a “clear well” for the water plant.
“We’ll be putting it out for bids soon,” he said. “We want to continue progress on repairing the water plant and try to get the work done during this construction season. This grant is making it possible.”
In addition, Deputy said the town has a “leak detection” company working to identify what water lines within the town need to be repaired or replaced.
“Once that work is done, we’ll be able to prioritize what lines we need to work on,” he said. “We plan to move forward on that too.”
Hot Sulphur Springs’ water crisis has apparently been developing for several years, according to town officials. A number of factors contributed to the problem that finally culminated in the Colorado Department of Health’s order on April 7.
On that date, the filtration system at the town’s water plant began to fail. The normal turbidity level of the water produced by the town’s plant was 0.2. However, a water sample taken that morning showed levels of 3.65 which is well above the maximum safety limit of 1 turbidity unit. When water turbidity rises, the likelihood that certain types of bacteria could get through the filtering process increases.
Through an intergovernmental agreement, Hot Sulphur was able to secure the services of two licensed water operators from the Genesee Water and Sanitation District and Tabernash Water and Sanitation District. Their water operators were able to fix the immediate filtration problem at the town’s water plant but discovered that major repairs needed to be done, including the construction of a new “clear well.”
Although the filtration problem had been essentially fixed, the water operators also had to try to clean up and disinfect the town’s distribution system, which had become contaminated by the water with the high turbidity level in April. They performed three complete “flushings” of the town’s water pipes by sending highly chlorinated water through them and then opening all 40 of Hot Sulphur’s fire hydrants one at a time.
Despite the flushings, the level of turbidity coming out of the town’s water pipes remained above the state standards until the latest tests were performed this past week.
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