This content was originally published by the Longmont Observer and is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
I’ve just returned to Longmont after a vacation that took our family through five states and a Canadian province by rail. A unique feature of travel by rail in the US is the view of water treatment plants. They tend to be near rail with their own service spur to take delivery on chemicals and removal of solid waste. This may also be in a place that is not in view of the central downtown area of any town or city. Out of the way that is a prominent feature for the rail traveler. Even with little knowledge of process by the casual viewer passing at seventy-nine miles-per-hour, differences are noted in design and management. Towns on rivers and lakes or land locked recycling, recycling and treating is what all towns are doing. Recycled water created by human waste cycle.
Nearly all human habituation sites follow this hygiene cycle. In the few that do not, there is Longmont. Our water intake is not the result or contribution of discharge of treated effluent from an upstream source. Our water storage is first from snowmelt and mountain precipitation. In the flow from a high elevation to our taps, it produces hydro-electric power, which we use in a more efficient manner to pump and move water.
Longmont water is the freshest from mountain run off. Glacial and snowmelt and rain in the mountains are the source. To the east is downstream and those water users are surviving on recycled water. Before effective water treatment, this method of drinking water distribution was cause for deep wells to mitigate refuse waters on the surface. Getting water from somewhere else could be a collection point from above and still be toxic. Longmont doesn’t need well water.
The network of canals were man made for agricultural purposes. The St. Vrain river has been terraformed into a wide body of storage waters surrounding it. The natural flood plain had been re-engineered over a 150 years and is in part responsible for the 2013 redirection of the river. The easy flow had been provided by man to bring water here. It did.
It was fresh water and a good rinse with a hose cleaned most stuff off. The mud from our mountains contains interesting and harmless stuff like gold. It washes off. The federal government advised that all flood waters were tainted, which from a national standpoint is certainly true. Flood water in town will contain the contents of humans. Flood waters before Lyons and Longmont were not likely to experience refuse laden waters from an upstream city. Bad yes, but not the Cuyahoga River.
The flood water was silt filled but not dirty in the sense that our eastern neighbors have. This was clean water that came from the sky. We are not living downstream from industrial and commercial pollution. We are the first cause of it.
Open your tap for a glass of Colorado’s best. Look at the drain.