Tag Archives: Water

What’s in the Water?

 

toothbrushpaste

Photo Credit: Jonas Bergsten

There is a high likelihood that at some point in your life, you have used a product containing fluoride. Many of us have memories of fluoride treatments at the dentist’s office—either in the form of a goopy gel oozing out of ill-fitting trays or as a liquid rinse. Even as adults, most people brush their teeth twice a day with toothpaste containing fluoride; all in the interest of keeping their teeth in tip-top shape.

But, did you know that there is a good chance that fluoride is also present in your tap water?

Almost all water has naturally-occurring fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral—like Vitamin D or calcium—that is released from rocks into our air, soil and water; however, depending on the source of the water, fluoride is not always present in concentrations that would be optimal for preventing tooth decay. It is also possible for levels of fluoride to be too high, which is why water providers test  fluoride levels in tap water, allowing them to make adjustments based on current levels.

Fluoride research began in 1901, in Colorado Springs. Initial research was conducted by dental school graduate Fredrick McKay, and in 1909, he was joined by dental researcher, Dr. G.V. Black. Upon arriving in Colorado Springs, McKay noticed that Colorado Springs natives had brown-stained teeth. Having never seen this type of tooth stain before, McKay asked Black to join him so that together, they could determine the source of “Colorado Brown Stain.”

What they discovered was a connection between fluoride in water and dental health. In Colorado Springs, the cause of stained teeth in locals turned out to be dental fluorosis, a cosmetic result of excessive fluoride consumption due to high levels of fluoride in the local water.

dental_fluorosis_mild

Photo Credit: Matthew Ferguson

According to WebMD, dental fluorosis is caused by overexposure to fluoride—sources include water, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.—during the first eight years of life, when permanent teeth are being formed. Discoloration can range from lacy white markings to yellow or brown stains and may include surface irregularities, including severe pitting. McKay and Black determined that the high levels of fluoride not only caused the staining, but also provided an unusually high resistance to tooth decay.

In 1931, the first fluoride studies were conducted by Dr. H. Trendley Dean. Based on previous research done in the field, he hypothesized that it was possible to have fluoride levels in water that were low enough to be safe for consumption and avoid dental fluorosis, yet high enough to help prevent tooth decay.

In 1945, his hypothesis was put to the test in Grand Rapids, Michigan; the first city in the world to fluoridate its drinking water. Over the course of 15 years, 30,000 school children were monitored for tooth decay. After 11 years, the caries rate (the rate of tooth decay) was down 60 percent. The study results indicated that tooth decay could be preventable.

running-waterDean’s study spurred a national movement to add fluoride to community water systems and more than 70 years later, the majority of the U.S. population is receiving fluoridated water. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2014, 66.3 percent of the total U.S. population and 74.4 percent of the population receiving water from a community water system were receiving fluoridated water. 74 percent of Colorado residents are receiving fluoridated water, falling in line with the rest of the country.

Many people receive fluoridated water, but wonder if it’s safe to consume. Everyone has the right to know what they are ingesting and how it will impact their health—check on the fluoridation status of the water that you are receiving at My Water’s Fluoride. Learn about  other contaminants that may naturally occur in your water, or additives like fluoride, and how your water provider addresses them by finding your local Consumer Confidence Report on the Colorado Water Quality Control Division’s website here.

Some people are opposed to the addition of fluoride to public drinking water. Opponents of fluoride in drinking water are troubled by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) classification of fluoride as a drug for safety testing purposes. They see the addition of fluoride to water as being for the sole purpose of preventing tooth decay, as opposed to improving water quality, making it a medical treatment that is being imposed on them without consent.Another concern includes the inability of an individual consumer to regulate their fluoride dosage. Opponents worry that someone who drinks more water than someone else may receive a higher dosage of fluoride. In this vein, the dosage in a single glass is the same across the board, regardless of the needs of the person ingesting fluoride.

In 2013, Portland, Oregon voters rejected a ballot proposal to add fluoride to their drinking water, making it the largest U.S. city without fluoride in their water, or plans to add it. Opponents of the measure echo the belief that fluoride as a chemical will ruin the city’s pristine water supply, and that adding fluoride violates an individual’s right to consent to medication. From a USA Today article:

800px-woman_drinking_from_a_water_fountain_-royal_botanic_gardens_sydney_australia-18feb2009

Photo Credit: The.Rohit

“I don’t want chemicals in my water,” Sarah Lazzaro said after voting Tuesday. “I know that there are really no known health risks with it, but there’s a lot of things we find out later in life really do have health risks.”

During the summer of 2015, both Snowmass, Colorado and Denver Water debated the practice of adding fluoride to their public water systems. Initially, the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District decided to discontinue adding fluoride to their water; however, in October 2015, under public pressure, the board reversed their decision, and will not discontinue the procedure. Denver Water also found themselves at the center of the fluoride debate, and while they have reduced the dosage of fluoride, per the recommendation of the U.S. Public Health Service, they too, continue to add fluoride to the water they provide. Many who disagree with fluoride being added to drinking water stand firm in their position, keeping the conversation flowing between them and those who view it as beneficial.

The U.S. Public Health Service recommends a fluoride concentration of 0.7 mg/L, or 0.7 parts per million (ppm), to maintain the benefits of reducing the risk of tooth decay, while also decreasing the possibility of dental fluorosis. The U.S. Environmental Protection Association regulates fluoride contamination in drinking water with an enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 4 mg/L, or 4 ppm and an unenforceable secondary standard set at 2 mg/L. Other agencies including the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Public Health Association (APHA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other major health organizations in the United States, believe that community water fluoridation, in recommended low quantities, is safe.

Having clean, safe, drinking water is important to the health of individuals and the environment. Knowing what is in your water and how policy maker decisions can affect public health is the first step in making decisions that will have a positive impact on your personal well-being.

hw_fall_2016_final_coverRead more about water and its connection to public health in the latest issue of Headwaters magazine, “Renewing Trust in the Safety of Public Water”.

Not a Headwaters subscriber? Sign up here, or visit yourwatercolorado.org for the digital version. Headwaters is the flagship publication of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and covers current events, trends and opportunities in Colorado water.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Colorado Foundation for Water Education, Headwaters Magazine, Water Education and Resources, Water Quality

Go Time for Colorado’s Water Plan: Meeting the Plan’s Land Use Goals

By Meagan Webber

go time bugThe final draft of the Colorado Water Plan (CWP) was released in December 2015. As is part of our mission, The Colorado Foundation for Water Education seeks to help keep you up-to-speed on how the plan’s action steps are progressing on the ground in order to meet Colorado’s water needs. This is our third installment of the 2016 Headwaters series on the plan’s implementation. You can find the previous two installments in the Winter 2016 and Summer 2016 issues of Headwaters magazine. You can also check them out on the Your Water Colorado blog via these links: Conservation Goals; Environmental and Recreational Goals; Storage Goals; Funding Goals; and Outreach, Education, and Public Engagement Goals. In this blog post, we will take an in-depth look at another one of the plan’s nine measurable outcomes: land use planning.

_______________________________________________

Highlands Ranch_flickr

Highlands Ranch, home to 93,000 people in south metro Denver, relies on a combination of South Platte River water and groundwater.

Go Time for Colorado’s Water Plan: Meeting the Plan’s Land Use Goals by Ensuring Colorado’s Development is Water-Smart

Colorado’s population is projected to increase from 5.4 million in 2015 to approximately 8 million by 2050, which will require plenty of new development in addition to remodeling and replacing old housing. Although the connection between land use planning and water conservation may seem obscure at first, the former is important for the latter. Increasing housing density in cities will mean smaller lot sizes which means less Kentucky bluegrass turf drinking up water in our semi-arid state. This is just one example of how efficient land use can help reduce the gap between Colorado’s future water supply and demand. “We think there could be a big impact on water demand if we grow Colorado differently,” says Kevin Reidy, state water conservation technical specialist for the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB).  

Colorado’s Water Plan has already taken this into account, setting “a measurable objective that by 2025, 75 percent of Coloradans will live in communities that have incorporated water-saving actions into land-use planning.” The water plan outlines a five-step action plan and describes several initiatives that are already underway to work toward this goal. The specifics can be found in section 6.3.3 of the water plan.

The first of these action steps is to encourage local governments to use local development tools, such as “creating more stringent green-construction codes that include higher-efficiency fixtures and appliances and more water-wise landscapes.” This is one example of a development tool that will be the focus of voluntary trainings for local governments hosted by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) in 2016. These trainings are based on Pace University’s Land Use Leadership Alliance (LULA) training program. The CWCB has been working closely with LULA to develop its own training modules. Several trainings are coming up later this year, and several modules have been completed in the past nine months. In addition to the trainings, the CWCB will also host five webinars starting this September and continuing into October. So far, “ten communities have completed land-use and water trainings through the LULA process.” However 80 communities and water providers (in Colorado) will need to complete the training by 2025 in order to reach the 75 percent population objective, according to the water plan.

The CWCB is also working to incorporate municipal system water loss into these trainings. That is, water loss via leaks in the pipes that deliver water to our homes and businesses. “This is a low-hanging fruit that we should be going after,” says Reidy. “We are working to show people that this is a problem.” If these damages are repaired and piping infrastructure updated overall, it will save a lot of water and money for water providers and customers.

The second step is to examine barriers in state law for implementing the local development tools that local governments are encouraged to use in the above-mentioned trainings. At this point, the CWCB is waiting to learn about barriers in feedback from the trainings. Local governments and communities have more in-depth knowledge of the specific ordinances in their areas and will know what sorts of legal barriers will prevent them from using certain development tools.

The first two action steps build up to the third, which aims for incorporation of land-use practices into water conservation plans. Aurora Water is a great example of a water provider that has been integrating land use planning and water conservation. Aurora Water has been working with the Aurora Planning Department to run computer models that project how different city densities and land use patterns will affect water supply and demand into the future. These models and data were used to inform Aurora Water’s 2013 Water Management Plan, which includes outdoor watering rules for different landscapes under different conditions of water availability and encourages the installation of Xeriscape landscapes. They are currently running more of these models (as is Denver Water) to predict how land use changes could impact water demand in different scenarios. They are still working on crunching numbers and will have results soon. These figures will be important to initiatives like the Water and Growth Dialogue, which seeks to “explore and demonstrate how the integration of water and land use planning should be utilized to reduce water demand.”

The Water and Growth Dialogue brings different stakeholders together to discuss water conservation opportunities in land use planning and is an example of the fourth action step in action. Strengthening partnerships with all possible stakeholders at this nexus of land and water is important to the success of the initiatives described above. Historically, “land use planning and water development have often been overseen by entirely different agencies or local governing boards,” according to an article by Allen Best in the Summer 2015 issue of Headwaters magazine. This is an issue that coordination and collaboration between groups will help address. In addition to the partnership with local governments across the state and Pace University’s LULA program, the CWCB has also been working closely with the Department of Public Health and Environment; The Sonoran Institute; The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy; and The Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment, along with many other stakeholders. “We want to reach a lot of communities to integrate land use and water planning by 2020. There is a lot of work to do and these partnerships are going help us achieve that,” Reidy says.

The final action step is the allocation of funds to various projects that will further all of the goals described above. Funding from the CWCB’s Water Efficiency Grant Program (WEGP) will support smaller, more localized efforts, while the CWCB’s Water Supply Reserve Account (WSRA) grant funds will be allocated toward larger, regional efforts, according to the plan. This will be a bit trickier this year, given the ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court on the BP America vs. Colorado Department of Revenue case, which means WSRA will not receive additional funding in the 2016-17 fiscal year. “Since we are looking at shortage of funds, we are pulling back on certain projects in order to prioritize everything in the water plan,” Reidy says. “A big part of that is helping local water providers gain capacity to manage water systems better. We still have those kinds of initiatives going because we want to help them achieve those goals.” The CWCB has been working to come up with alternate sources of funding, many of which are in the CWCB Water Projects Bill that the Colorado Legislature will decide upon in 2017.

hw_sum_2015_coveroptIf you would like to stay up-to-date on the implementation of the Colorado Water Plan, keep an eye out for the rest of our articles in this series and sign up to receive the bimonthly CWCB Confluence Newsletter. You can learn more about the nexus of land use and water at 1:30 pm today in a session, “Linking Water Supply with Land Use Planning,” at the Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference. Also, check out the Summer 2015 issue of Headwaters magazine.

1 Comment

Filed under Water Supply

Top Colorado Water News: June 1-18

We’re going to try to not say the word drought at all in this installment of Top Colorado Water News, but heads up, that doesn’t leave us much to call out. Summer kicks off officially this week — with infernal weather, low river flows and nary a drop of rain in the forecast. Still, there are a couple of watery goings on in Colorado that should be on your radar, such as the potential increase of water storage at Chatfield Reservoir and the ongoing battle for ski area water concessions. And if you want to know the latest about the d.r.o.u.g.h.t., read this post on the extreme conditions affecting 10 percent of Colorado. And for good measure, check out this good Coyote Gulch story on how the water shortage is affecting Colorado’s farmers.

Chatfield’s Water Levels May Rise — Is That A Good Thing?
Federal engineers have proposed adding 8,539 acre-feet of water a year to Chatfield Reservoir, which captures runoff from the South Platte River, reports the Denver Post. The Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation project would make further use of the existing reservoir by increasing storage at Chatfield to meet the growing water supply needs within the South Platte River Basin. Here’s the rub: This would inundate the popular recreational park with 12 additional feet of water, wiping out facilities and habitat for migratory birds. The Audubon Society has already released statements opposing the move, but the governor’s office and many others in Colorado are leaning toward seeing the project through. As Scott Roush with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said during a CFWE Tour of the South Metro Basin on Thursday, “it’s going to change the look for awhile,” but the EIS includes restoration efforts so that eventually the park will again become the wonderful wildlife habitat and recreational facility that it is today. “Our goal with Colorado Parks and Wildlife is to be able to have a great recreational area like we have today after the reallocation so we can have those same recreational opportunities that we have today,” Roush said. The proposal is currently in a 60-day public comment period. What do you think? Comment on this post to tell us whether you think adding water to the reservoir is a good or bad idea and why.

Ski Areas Fight for Their (Water) Rights
Ski resorts call it a grab for water rights worth millions. The Forest Service says the ski industry’s concessions violate Colorado law. Which party is right? The litigation, which pits groups such as the Colorado River Water Conservation District against the National Ski Areas Association, seeks to permit water rights that originate on national forest lands to the United States — versus to the owners of the land concessions, i.e. the state’s ski areas. Read the Summit County Citizens Voice overview of the issue.

1 Comment

Filed under Agriculture

Water in Two Different Generations

-Courtney Peppler

As a tomboy growing up in Littleton, Colorado in the 1980s, I have countless memories of running through sprinklers on the Slip ‘n Slide, playing water games at the local outdoor swimming pool (with green hair), climbing in the large cottonwood trees along the Highline Canal Trail near my childhood home, cooling off on the covered patio in the evening, experiencing the clockwork afternoon thunderstorms and of course, selling lemonade for ten cents a Dixie cup to any generous soul who decided to stop and support the neighborhood’s young entrepreneurs’ endeavors.  At that innocent time, water was simple. With the exception of my biweekly chore of manually moving the sprinkler to water the  lawn with our old fashioned ‘hose and sprinkler system’, water was fun! I gave little thought to the natural forces and human ambition that came together to make my lifestyle possible.

Water had a different meaning for my mother and father growing up in western Kansas in the 1950s.  The source of water was more transparent where rural families were often directly responsible for their own supply.  Windmills, powered by the Great Plains’ perpetually renewable energy resource, were often used to pump well water for household use.  A famous family story entails my ambitious two-year-old father climbing to the top of a windmill platform thirty feet above the ground and my grandmother running out of the house wringing her hands as my father looked down at her saying, “Don’t cry Mama!” Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Water Leaders

Feeding the State with Water

-T. Wright Dickenson, Rancher and 2nd VP for Colorado Cattlemen’s Association

In Colorado there are many competing water uses and limited supply

Whiskey is for Drinking; Water is for Fighting. – While these words still ring true today, the fights that exist over water aren’t waged with six-guns or fists, but rather engineers and attorneys.  Colorado is essentially a high mountain desert where much of the West’s water originates via snowfall in the high Rocky Mountains.  Without water, agricultural production in Colorado and the down-river states would be limited–as would tourism, industrial production, cities, and more.

While water is a broad subject, let’s look at it through the lens of food production.  Everyone knows that it takes water to grow food.  Colorado’s annual precipitation averages 15-17 inches; not enough to sustain food crops that we grow in Colorado to feed ourselves and the nation- therefore we need irrigation water.  While we can all debate the merits of water use in food production, it isn’t a debatable point that humans require food to sustain life.  Without irrigation water, agricultural production in Colorado is severely hampered. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Agriculture