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Jul 11, 2012 9:58 PM by Jacqui Heinrich

Burn near reservoir triggers water quality worries

In the wake of the Waldo Canyon fire and heavy rains that followed, locals in Colorado Springs are seeing streams running black with ash and debris.

Representatives from Colorado Springs Utilities say although it may not be a pretty sight, flowing streams of black don't pose a concern for our drinking water-- or our health. "People might think well, if Rampart was really affected then our drinking water is going to be affected. Our drinking water comes from 200 miles away," says Patrice Lehermeier, a spokesperson for CSU.

Though Rampart Reservoir and neighboring Nichols Reservoir did catch some dirty runoff from floods after the Waldo blaze, locals shouldn't be concerned. According to CSP, Rampart Reservoir and Nichols Reservoir-- 20% and 80% affected by the fire, respectively-- are being treated for sediment, ash, and debris, and that water will never reach local taps.

Utilities workers are installing traps in reservoirs and pipelines to prevent build up which could jam the treatment system, and CSU is also working with the US Forest Service to determine if dams and hay bales can be placed on the lands around the reservoirs to prevent runoff from leaking into the water supply.

The whole process is costing Colorado Springs Utilities millions, but until funds from federal, state, and regional fire relief programs come through, the impact it could have on your next water bill will remain unknown.

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