Cheers! This Round’s on Me
Cold. Clean. Clear. And some of the best-tasting stuff you’ll ever put your lips to! That’s what people have been saying about Leadville’s water for years! Ask any local what they miss when traveling and most will say, it’s that cold, tasty wetness, poured straight from the tap! It’s Lake County’s most precious, life-giving resource. And this week, it comes with some #GoodNewsYouCanUse as a recent system upgrade sees completion, guaranteeing more deliciousness for decades to come!
Big Evans Stripped Down In Lockdown
While the rest of the world lay in lockdown in Spring 2020, up on Leadville’s eastside a group of safely-scheduled, socially-distanced construction crews continued their essential work at Parkville Water District’s (PWD) Big Evans Water Treatment Plant.
The upgrade would include a complete strip-down and overhaul of the East 7th Street facility which was originally built in 1985. From filter replacements to backflow upgrades to a new SCADA system to the addition of what many consider to be one of the most necessary components when it comes to public safety, it’s a hi-tech giant-step-forward from top to bottom. The $1.7 million project positions Parkville to continue providing customers with the best drinking water in the state, and meet the future needs of a growing community.
If you live in Leadville Today, it’s imperative to know where your water comes from, it will motivate you to protect its sources. For the thousands of Parkville Water District customers that source is to the east of town, not up at the headwaters of the Arkansas River. In fact, Leadville’s primary water source is surface water that travels all across the base of the Mosquito Mountain Range, particularly the Evans Gulch Basin, eventually emptying into the reservoir below, then into the water treatment plant, and eventually into household faucets.
Therefore the protection and preservation of Leadville’s eastside environment is imperative, particularly when it comes to the encroachment of people – be it by foot or motor. At the very least, users should be made aware of which specific water tributaries lead into Big Evans Reservoir, using extreme caution around these waterways. It all flows downhill into the system, so take it easy when tooley-tromping and bush-whacking up on the eastside. And certainly, county stewardship should include the transparency regarding requests for the use of magnesium chloride on trails for the comfort of athletic competitors. Be advised, it’s already happening, and it’s your water, Leadville! So, stay informed and stay involved about this life-giving resource.
Of course, knowledge is power, and learning more about Leadville’s water is the first step. To that end, readers will find this fourth, and final installment to LT’s Water, Water Everywhere series. For now, Parkville Water District’s plans and visions from the 20th-century have come full-circle with the completion of the water plant 21st-century upgrades.
The Big Evans Make-Over
“It was kind of touch and go a few times, but we got through it,” said Parkville Water District’s General Manager Greg Teter regarding the recent upgrades to the plant, which included operating on only one filter during some of the transition times of the construction project.
In fact, all that remains of the original 1985 system are the tanks themselves. Even those were sand-blasted down to the bare metal, re-primed, and then re-painted them with an epoxy coating. The entirely new system includes a laundry-list of clarifiers, filters, digital control valves, and new flow meters – all of which Teter talks about excitedly, seeing the 35-year-old facility which he saw built, undergo a 21st-century technology transformation that will yield an immediate return on investment.
Big Evans Water Treatment Plant Upgrade Part One
The Pièce de Résistance
Ironically, the most significant upgrade to the water treatment plant has nothing to do with water at all. However, Teter considers it to be the most important part of the entire new system: a 150-kilowatt diesel generator which acts as backup power.
“In 2019, Parkville had 11 power outages,” explains Teter. While most of them were short-term, power outages at the plant, prompted several cold winter nights of puzzle-solving against a ticking clock with crews wondering how long the water system could operate without power.
“Now we don’t have to worry about that,” says Teter pointing to the new generator. However, before the new piece of equipment, if the plant lost power for more than 10 hours, “we started getting into trouble.” It was clear that the inability for one utility to provide its promised – and most highly regulated – service created a domino effect for another utility company. During more recent emergency services conversations, Teter said that a lack of a generator at the water plant was the number one concern across the board. No power. No water.
So, after years of close calls with no apparent remedy in play by the power company, Parkville budgeted for the $75k backup power source when planning for the Big Evans Water Treatment Plant upgrade. Today, within 5 seconds of determining that the first power source has been compromised, the 150-kilowatt diesel generator will kick on with a 270-gallon fuel tank capacity to run everything in the plant.
Moving Water and Data
Another critical 21st-century upgrade at the Big Evans Water Treatment Plant involves the communication system. With the new SCADA – supervisory control and data acquisition – system in place the need for middle-of-the-night treks up to the plant has been eliminated.
“I can control everything from here,” says Teter, demonstrating the new communication portals, allowing Parkville’s staff to monitor operations remotely. Crews can now manage the automation and flow of water throughout the entire system, from Carbonate Hill to the Canterbury Tunnel to the Arkansas Wells, with a swipe of their finger! The state-of-the-art computer system also monitors water quality including chlorine levels and any turbidity issues that arise, especially during the spring run-off season.
No doubt the Big Evans upgrades are a far cry from the early water company’s days of pipes soldered together with silver in the Pioneer days because it was cheaper and more readily available than lead! In fact, the completion of this project brings things full circle for the water company – one of the state’s oldest which also maintains water rights #2 and #3 on the state’s water law books.
Big Evans Water Treatment Plant Upgrade Part Two
For Teter, the project’s completion also represents the fruition of a personal dream. It’s one that started many years ago, when Teter as a young Leadville lad was stopped by some old-timer and asked, “Hey kid, do you want to come work for the water company?” Since then, navigating his way up the ranks, and growing along with the needs and demands of the district, Teter has demonstrated the type of visionary leadership where plans really do see completion, and on schedule and budget! And if you live in Leadville Today, that’s a dream come true for everyone.
So with hands raised high with a glass full of Colorado’s best drinking water, Cheers, Greg! Thanks for your continued, thoughtful dedication to Parkville and the Lake County community. The Big Evans Water Treatment Plant upgrade project also included work from the following companies, all of whom worked diligently – and very safe with shift rotations – during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to get the job done and meet the completion deadline. Thanks to the main contractor, Glacier Construction, Triangle Electric, and Browns Hill Engineering and Controls.
About Parkville Water District
To learn more about the Parkville Water District check out Parts One, Two, and Three of the Water, Water Everywhere series from Leadville Today. Discover how this water company was formed, which water rights it owns and how its treatment and distribution system operates. Or better yet, attend one of their Board of Director’s gatherings which meets the second Thursday of every month at 5:15 p.m. at the Parkville business office at 2015 N. Poplar Street (next to Pizza Hut) in Leadville.
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Part One: Water, Water Everywhere
Part Two: Water, Water Everywhere
Part Three: Water, Water Everywhere