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One of the reasons we are implementing reuse is that it is a more economical solution for Castle Rock. Pumping water from thousands of feet below the surface, or from sources far away, is more expensive than using water we already own and is within our community. Projections indicate we may still need to raise rates slowly over time, but at a much smaller pace than if we were to use other water supplies.
(Updated Jan. 29, 2021)
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If so, will it remove all or most of these compounds? I have read that reverse osmosis tends to remove everything, but I was not sure about microfiltration.
Yes, pharmaceuticals, hormones and other non-regulated contaminants will be removed to below detectable levels by the advanced treatment processes that have been added to the Plum Creek Water Purification Facility as part of our reuse project. The processes we are adding include ozone treatment, biologically active carbon filtration, ultraviolet radiation and granular activated carbon filtration. These are in addition to microfiltration, which is already used at the facility. Microfiltration is very similar to, but not quite as extensive as, reverse osmosis. There are now a total of nine different treatment processes to provide redundancies ensuring a pure water with efficiencies for equipment and operations.
Regardless of where our water originates, Castle Rock Water must meet very strict state and federal regulations to provide clean and safe water. In fact, the wastewater treatment plant also must remove contaminants from water before releasing it into the creek, as communities downstream are already picking this water up to treat it for drinking water.
(updated Jan. 29, 2021)
Reuse water is a safe, sustainable and economical water source for the community that Castle Rock Water has been planning for since 2006. There was not a vote held on this, but rather years of outreach and planning to secure the community’s long-term water future. Planning documents can be found at CRgov.com/WaterPlans, and the public is invited to attend the monthly Water Commission meetings to learn more about long-term water. Reuse water is the wave of the future, and as all water is recycled, this transition is a natural process. It is estimated that all South Metro communities will be using reuse water by 2050. Most communities are already recycling water, as treated wastewater is discharged into rivers and then picked up for drinking water treatment by communities downstream. Instead of allowing cities downstream to use this water that we have paid for, we will be recapturing it. While water demand is a factor, reuse water and transitioning to a renewable water are necessary for a sustainable future, regardless of growth.
Sellars Gulch is a surface stream that flows into East Plum Creek. The stream has natural flows that come from rain and snow, sprinkler systems, and natural surface springs. Surface streams, like Sellars Gulch, are a dynamic system that lose and gain water as they travel downstream. Sellars Gulch is wet around Festival Park, but then dips below ground. The water spreads among the sand and gravel underground, but then can be extracted as a drinking water supply downstream. Water that exists in the sand and gravel adjacent to a surface stream below ground is called an alluvial aquifer.
Conserving water is simply the right thing to do. Castle Rock Water’s conservation efforts are about being proactive and asking for help from all water customers. Conserving water in the landscape is the easiest place to be more efficient and save. Every year, Castle Rock Water prepares a Summer Demand Plan, which helps predict the summer water demand. This plan takes into account new water supplies, weather projects and other changes in our community. The Town is utilizing more renewable water supplies from sources such as East Plum Creek. These renewable sources are very sustainable in the long term, but are affected by seasonal weather conditions. The recent hot, dry weather and lack of rain has resulted in some renewable water sources dropping to record low levels. One immediate solution is to reduce peak summer use. Peak demand is when everyone is using the water at the same time. Typical water usage over the summer is about 13.4 million gallons per day. Typical water usage during the winter is only 4 million gallons. On very hot, dry days, usage can shoot up to excess of 17 million gallons. It’s not that we are running out of water, but is difficult for the storage tanks and distribution lines to keep up with this daily demand. What this means for water customers is to stick to the watering schedules of every-third-day and watering during the cooler hours of the evening. All customers, residents, HOAs and businesses, including the Town, have these watering schedules (though the times and days may differ.) The watering schedules spread out the demand and the watering times reduce evaporation, a major water waste. Customers are also encouraged to replace plants with low and no water landscaping, use more efficient irrigation products and adjust irrigation run times.
Visit CRconserve.com to find the watering schedule, tips for indoor and outdoor conservation, registration for Water Wiser and ColoradoScape workshops, and rebates for water efficiency products.
No, but our rates are a result of the local challenges related to water supply in our semi-arid region. Like most South Metro communities, Castle Rock is transitioning from a deep groundwater, nonrenewable supply to a renewable supply which comes from snow and rain. This will ensure a sustainable water source for the future. Castle Rock Water rates are mid-range compared to Front Range providers. See how one study compares water and sewer rates nationally. Keep in mind that comparing water bills is not easy, as every water provider is different. For instance, one reason a water bill from Denver Water is less than Castle Rock Water is that it is for drinking water service only. Separate bills (or property taxes imposed) are required for wastewater and stormwater in some other communities while, in Castle Rock, it is all on one bill. Castle Rock Water rates and fees are analyzed and adjusted annually, and this plan is reviewed by a resident-driven, open-meeting Water Commission.
Developers are required to utilize low-water landscaping materials designed for our semi-arid environment. There are very specific requirements for landscape materials and irrigation practices and the landscape criteria manual is updated periodically. For example, Kentucky Bluegrass is not allowed on common spaces and, in 2018, it is no longer allowed anywhere for new development in the Town – including on residential lots.
While we are high, mountain desert, we don’t call it desert-scape. We don’t even call it xeriscape. These terms give the idea of rock and cactus. While beautiful, this is not the native Colorado landscape. Castle Rock advocates “ColoradoScape,” which emphasizes landscape design with a variety of colorful, low-water-use plants, accented by boulders and filled in with various organic mulch.
Castle Rock Water has been purchasing water rights in areas of the South Platte River watershed for the last five years as part of our long-term water supply strategic master plan. We are also working on projects to fully reuse all of the water the Town already owns the legal right to use. While we work to build infrastructure (pipes, tanks, plants, etc.) to use that water, Castle Rock leases the water to other entities in order to maximize revenues, to help offset the costs to our customers for developing these water supplies. Our goal is to keep rates as low as we can while still ensuring we have a healthy water supply, updated infrastructure and sustainable water future.