Utilities' long-term water strategy pays off 

Your Turn

Delivering safe and high-quality drinking water to you is our top priority at Colorado Springs Utilities.

At CSU, we believe water is the lifeblood of our community. Never has this been more relevant than today, as concerns over the safety of our nation's water supply take center stage.

In the past few months, water quality has taken a more local focus as neighboring water districts manage the detection of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in portions of their communities' groundwater supplies.3

While we have not detected PFCs in Springs Utilities' drinking water supply, the topic of water quality is of paramount importance to us. Our customers rightfully expect that we deliver them safe drinking water.

Delivering a reliable, safe water supply is a responsibility we embrace as a community-owned utility. That is evidenced in our water planning legacy and the manner in which we monitor our water sources.

Previous generations of Springs Utilities water planners had the foresight to design water delivery systems that — while not immune — are more resistant to water contamination challenges.

Seeing the inherent difficulties of not having a major water source nearby and the limitations of underground wells, our early water planners instead designed a series of systems that relied on first-use, high-mountain surface water.

While not completely unique in the industry, Springs Utilities was at the forefront of bringing water from across the Continental Divide by designing and completing one of the earliest transmountain water delivery systems in the 1950s: the Blue River System, which begins near Breckenridge.

This legacy of transformative water planning continued into the 1960s and 1970s with the completion of the Homestake System, which originates near Leadville and Buena Vista.

In the 1980s, we added the Fountain Valley Authority (FVA) System, and now, we're celebrating the Phase 1 completion of the Southern Delivery System (SDS). Both projects deliver water to the Front Range from Pueblo Reservoir.

Certainly, completing a water delivery system decades ago that traversed mountainous terrain was a huge accomplishment. Even today, building any transmountain water delivery system requires years of water rights development, planning, permitting and relationship-building. In fact, planning for SDS began more than 20 years ago.

Beyond planning, we are proud to have one of the few state-certified testing labs in Colorado. State certification goes beyond the type of equipment you have in a lab. It's more about the quality of staff who are tasked with collecting and analyzing samples before water reaches your homes and businesses.

Thankfully, we have some of the most talented lab staff in the nation, overseeing approximately 50,000 water quality tests annually to ensure your safety.

The path to a sustainable, high-quality drinking water supply is costly, tedious and challenging, but the investments have paid off. We feel strongly that the investment in a safe and adaptable water supply has been well worth the time and expense. Not only does it keep you and your family safe, but it also enables us to help our neighbors in times of need.

We have been extremely fortunate to enjoy partnerships with our neighboring water districts in Fountain, Security and Widefield over the years. These partnerships date back to the Fountain Valley Authority System, and continue today with the Southern Delivery System.

As Fountain, Security and Widefield mitigate the detection of PFCs in the groundwater portion of their water supplies, the value of regional water delivery systems has been apparent.

Regional projects like FVA and SDS have enabled our neighbors to drastically reduce or even suspend deliveries from contaminated groundwater sources. In the coming months, we will continue to work with our neighbors whenever requested and wherever possible.

If you are wondering about what's in your Springs Utilities drinking water or where it comes from, I encourage you to review any of our recent water quality reports at csu.org.

Jerry Forte has been CEO of Colorado Springs Utilities since 2006.


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