When Linda Carrico heard Castle Rock was planning to incorporate more reused water into its system in 2020, she immediately thought of the now infamous water troubles in Flint, Michigan, where lead …
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When Linda Carrico heard Castle Rock was planning to incorporate more reused water into its system in 2020, she immediately thought of the now infamous water troubles in Flint, Michigan, where lead in the drinking water has caused huge public health problems.
The 13-year town resident wanted to learn more about the ethical processes behind Castle Rock's reuse water plan, so she attended an April 13 open house at the town's humming Plum Creek Water Purification Facility to see firsthand how it's done.
She left impressed, and at ease with the direction Castle Rock's water is heading, she said.
“They've got so many checks and balances for safety,” she said. “I think it's ethically run.”
Carrico was one of dozens who turned out to the open house where residents could speak with town staff face-to-face, including Water Director Mark Marlowe, and take a tour of the expansive water plant, built in 2013.
Historically, Castle Rock has gotten its water from underground aquifers, but the town's goal is to reach at least 75 percent renewable water by 2050. It has begun relying more on surface water and importing water from other areas. It also plans to reuse more of its own water as it moves to a heavier reliance on renewable sources.
Castle Rock says reused water will bring added efficiency and cost-saving measures to the program. It's also sustainable, and a growing trend globally, according to the town. By 2020 the town expects nearly a third of its water to be reuse water.
Among nearby communities, Aurora began using reuse water in 2010 and already sends some of it to Caste Rock through the WISE partnership, a program that allows communities to share water resources. Castle Rock began receiving WISE water in April 2018.
Today, Castle Rock's wastewater — like the kind that gets flushed down the toilet or down a household drain — is sent to its wastewater treatment plant where it is treated and then discharged into streams like East Plum Creek. For years it's then flowed about eight miles downstream and been used by other communities.
Marlowe said the plan is to add infrastructure that allows the town to recapture water from the creek downstream, ship it back to town, through the treatment plants and, once safe, distribute it back to the town for more use.
“It's going to provide a really high-quality water source for us,” Marlowe said.
Roughly two years ago the town purchased a pump station near Sedalia and plans to build a pipeline that will send water captured from East Plum Creek at the Sedalia location back to town.
The town is also expanding its treatment plant to treat other things present in the water, like caffeine or pharmaceuticals. Those are not regulated or required to be treated but the town still plans to do so, Marlowe said.
“A lot of our existing supply is reusable legally,” he said. “That's not the case for everyone in Colorado.”
Chris Bach, another town resident, took an 11:30 a.m. tour of the Plum Creek Water Purification Facility during the reuse open house. She, too, felt comforted by the checks and balances used to ensure water distributed to residents is safe, she said.
Bach and her husband lived in Castle Rock 15 years ago before moving away, only to move back to town last year. They've seen it grow tremendously, she said, and they're glad to see Castle Rock exploring sustainable water methods.
“We have to do something,” she said, “with the growth in population, including us.”
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