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Faucets free of mud despite storms

Kathy Heicher
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyA very muddy Brush Creek flows toward Eagle's faucets.
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EAGLE ” The water in Brush Creek, Eagle’s water source, ran the color of chocolate milk last week after a series of heavy storms washed mud and silt into the creek.

But by the time it poured out of the taps in town, the water was clear, and consumers were blissfully unaware of the upstream challenges.

Credit the $4.5 million in water treatment system improvements the town invested in two years ago, and some extra hours at the water plant by the town staff, says Town Manager Willy Powell.



“Nothing changed at the faucet ” the equipment did its job,” said Powell.

Eagle Public Works Director Dusty Walls said the problems occurred after three big rain storms up the creek the week before last. Most of the mud that washed into West Brush Creek came from the Sneve Gulch area of Sylvan Lake.



“Everything from below Sylvan Lake on West Brush Creek was a mess,” said Walls.

Typically, the untreated water that goes into the town’s treatment plant on lower Brush Creek runs at about a 3-5 mtu (a measurement of turbidity, or how muddy the water is). After the first storm last week, that number shot up to 100 mtus. The second storm brought that number up to 450 mtu’s; and the third storm came in at 2,700 mtus.

Health regulations specify that the water emerging from the treatment plant must be at least .3 mtus.



During the first two storms, the town was able to operate the treatment plant continuously. The third storm forced the town to turn the water treatment plant off for about five hours, in order to allow the water to settle down.

Once water flows into the plant, mechanical equipment adds sand and synthetic binders to make dirt settle out. There’s a series of settling ponds that further process the water.

Powell said the additional equipment the town installed two summers ago was essential to keeping the water flowing.

“We wouldn’t have been able to handle it without the addition. We would have been on a boil order,” said Walls. “It would have been like the old days when mud came out of the faucets.”


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