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Monthly Blog

Check our Blog page regularly for continually changing info, articles, news, and more!

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  • 18 Feb 2024 3:43 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    In the lab, we strive for 100% every single day. We want everything to be exactly by the method, documented, within specs… we aim for perfection. And that’s fantastic. But that’s not how real life always works. Sometimes stuff goes wrong, or at least partially not right.


    There is biology in our analytical lab. Personally, the most challenging tests for my program are WET, E. coli, and BOD - at times, these tests drive me insane. They are biological! It doesn’t always go perfectly in the analytical realm- throw in some biology and good luck! But we are all biology. We are human. We have off days and make mistakes. And it’s ok to be human.


    Even analytical requirements have error built in. Known standards need to be within 90-110% to be considered acceptable. Heck, some of the more wobbly tests even stretch to 70-130% acceptability limits. So, why don’t we give ourselves similar margins of error? Why do we understand that analytical tests have a small range of error but do not grant ourselves the same grace?


    Perfection is tough under optimal conditions. But we all face challenges - aging equipment, juggling multiple priorities, short on staff and budgets, lower and lower detection limits, etc. Yet we still want to be perfect. It’s ingrained in our analytical brains - everything has a set procedure, we can’t deviate, and we know there is a precise right answer. We always seek that 100% recovery, perfect slope, and not missing anything. This degree of perfectionism has an important role in the lab. But it can also make us crazy.


    Even in the lab, it’s not always black and white. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been trying to find out the answer to my question only to determine that it is a grey area and up to some level of interpretation. Who would have thought there was art to our science?! And the further we dig in, the more complicated it gets. We are juggling priorities and facing difficult questions where sometimes we must choose the lesser evil. We do the best we can with the resources we have. Personally, I used to think that I’d have it figured out by this point in my life. But the truth is - if we keep advancing and taking on bigger challenges, it never gets any easier. The questions and challenges just keep getting harder. And I think most of us would be bored if they weren’t. But the fact remains- we keep raising that bar.


    It’s great to strive for perfection and I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t. But it’s also important to know when good enough is good enough. I’m not saying to cut corners or to lower the bar. But we are human and can only do our best. I’ve noticed that people who are drawn to the lab often have an analytical mindset that is such an advantage. But if you are one of those people who wakes up in the middle of the night worrying about something in the lab, can’t turn off during vacation, or stress about the increasing cost of service contracts or how you’re going to attract or retain top notch chemists - I implore you to reevaluate where you’re putting your energy. When we set our sights on perfection, we don’t give ourselves credit for all the amazing things that we ARE accomplishing. Like anything, it’s a balance, right? Continual improvement is a good goal but not at the cost of undervaluing all the stuff that we get right every single day. Sometimes, instead of stressing about hold times, sig figs, and whether we remembered to pH-adjust that buffer - our energy is better spent on nominating a colleague for recognition on a special project, chatting with Operations about upcoming data needs, or just taking a moment to appreciate how much our labs and teams accomplish every single day. We do great work. Take the time to give yourself a pat on the back.


    Melissa Mimna is Laboratory Manager for the City of Boulder Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) where she has worked in the WRRF Lab for the past 12 years.

  • 31 Jan 2024 7:12 AM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    As we bid farewell to one year and welcome another, it's an opportune time to reflect on our habits and consider making positive changes for the future. One crucial aspect that often escapes our resolution lists is water usage. With water scarcity becoming an increasingly prevalent issue, setting resolutions for sustainable water practices is not only responsible but essential. Let's dive into some meaningful New Year resolutions that can help us become more conscious and responsible stewards of this precious resource.


    Conserve Water at Home:

    The first step toward sustainable water usage begins at home. Make it a resolution to fix any leaks, install water-efficient appliances, and be mindful of water consumption during daily activities such as showering, dishwashing, and laundry. Simple adjustments like turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or fixing a dripping faucet can collectively make a significant impact.


    Adopt Xeriscaping Practices:

    In our water scarce region, xeriscaping – a landscaping method that promotes water conservation – can be a game-changer. Resolve to redesign your outdoor spaces with native, drought-resistant plants that require less water. This not only contributes to water conservation but also adds a touch of local beauty to your surroundings.

    The Colorado State University Extension is a valuable resource for information on xeriscaping. They often provide guides, articles, and workshops on water-wise landscaping practices suitable for Colorado's climate. Visit their website or contact the local extension office for specific resources.
    Https://extension.colostate.edu  


    Rainwater Harvesting Goals:

    Consider making 2024 the year you start harvesting rainwater. Collecting rainwater can significantly reduce reliance on traditional water sources for activities like gardening and watering plants. Invest in a rain barrel or explore more elaborate rainwater harvesting systems depending on your needs and the local regulations. The Colorado State University Extension is again a great resource for those looking for guidance.


    Educate Yourself and Others:

    Resolve to learn more about the water situation in your region. Understand where your water comes from, how it's treated, and the challenges it faces. Share this knowledge with friends and family, raising awareness about the importance of sustainable water usage. The more people are informed, the more likely they are to adopt water-saving habits.


    This month, the third Climate Change in Colorado report was released. Created by researchers at the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University, the report has valuable insights for water providers and planners regarding temperature increases, runoff effects, and precipitation. Read CSU’s press release here for highlights. There’s also a nice summary from Heather Sackett writing for Aspen Journalism.


    As we embark on a new year, let's make a splash with resolutions that go beyond personal betterment, extending to the well-being of our planet. Sustainable water usage is not just an environmental responsibility; it's a necessity for the survival of our communities and ecosystems. By adopting these resolutions, you become an integral part of the solution, contributing to a more water-conscious and sustainable future. Cheers to a year filled with positive change and mindful water stewardship!


    Danny McCausland is a Senior Water Quality Analyst with the City of Thornton. He has 10 years working in the water quality field.
  • 15 Dec 2023 2:12 PM | Lindie Aragon (Administrator)

    The holiday season is FULL of stress. So many things to get done with less daylight than you need. Money is tight, the anxiety of gift selections is at an all-time max, wrapping is difficult and looks nothing like the one you pinned on Pinterest, family is determined to throw consecutive shindigs, you drank to much at your company party, the list goes on and on!

    Instead of writing a blog that is informative, educational, or beneficial, I decided to take the time to gather some jokes. Hoping at least one makes you smile and escape from the craziness for just a moment. Even with the pressure and madness, I truly hope each and every person reading this has an amazing holiday doing what you love most! Cheers to 2023 and cannot wait to see you in the New Year!


    What do you call it when a guy throws his laptop into the ocean?

    Adele, Rollin’ in the Deep.


    H20 is water, but what is H204?

    It’s for swimming and drinking, of course.


    There are two reasons why you should never drink toilet water.

    Number one. And number two.


    How do you know if an ant is a boy or a girl?

    If you toss it in the water and it sinks, it’s a girl. If the ant floats, it’s a buoyant.


    Why do scuba divers fall backwards into the water?

    Because if they fell forwards, they would still be in the boat.


    My friend keeps saying “Cheer up man it could be worse, you could be stuck underground in a hole full of water.”

    I know he means well.


    Just opened my water bill and my electricity bill at the same time…

    I was shocked.


    What did the river say when it saw beavers for the first time?

    “Well, I’ll be dammed.”


    How do you find Will Smith in a snowstorm?

    Look for Fresh Prints!


    What did one snowman say to the other?

    Do you smell carrots?


  • 16 Nov 2023 4:23 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    This month many of us will gather with friends and family and give thanks for the things that we are thankful for – our family, friends, a roof over our heads or the wonderful meals before us. But one of the most important things that many of us are grateful for is often overlooked and never mentioned at Thanksgiving dinner…water. It is something that is a part of everyone’s daily lives and is often taken for granted. For most people in the US, we don’t have to worry whether the water we get from the tap is clean or where the water goes when we flush our toilet.


    Water is the core of all the things that we are thankful for daily. It allows us to cook our food, keeps our bodies nourished, keeps our environment clean. The list of reasons to be thankful for water can go on and on but at its core, water is essential for life and something that I know I am very grateful for. I personally have been fortunate enough to work in water quality for my professional career and had the privilege of working with many great people who dedicated their lives to providing our communities with clean water. From the treatment of wastewater to the distribution of safe drinking water, we have a great community that keeps water flowing through our daily lives.


    As we gather this Thanksgiving let us be reminded of the things that are sometimes overlooked in our daily lives such as clean water and the people who put in the hard work to provide us this resource. Water is the core of life, and it is important that we continue to make improvements to water infrastructure and work on providing safe water to those communities who may not have access to clean water as many of us do.


    Michael Hendricks is a Water Quality Senior Technician for Denver Water

  • 26 Oct 2023 6:55 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    For many in the wastewater industry, the association with autumn and conferences comes naturally. The Rocky Mountain Water Conference (RMWC) occurs in September and WEFTEC takes place at the beginning of October. This was my first year participating in back-to-back wastewater conferences in less than one month. While both conferences lived up to the hype with all the free drinks (and interesting talks) it got me thinking about the collective experience at one of those conferences. I estimate there was roughly 7,500 years of knowledge at the RMWC alone.


    In this vein, I was hoping to exploit my friend Blair Corning and his vast experience. Blair is currently the Deputy Director of Environmental Programs at South Platte Renew and was my boss at South Adams County Water and Sanitation District (SACWSD) in my first stint in wastewater. Blair was the reason I got involved in the RMWQAA and I’m reaching out to him to share his perspective. We’ll start out with a standard, base-level interview question. How did you get involved in the wastewater field….is it something you knew you wanted to do your whole life?


    I didn’t even think about being in water treatment when I was young. I wanted to be a veterinarian in high school and college. No one ever tells you about water and wastewater when you’re young and if they do it’s certainly not sexy enough to think about. Until you realize benefits and job stability and steady exciting work helping the community is sexy too. I got in when I applied for a job as a way to run from the USDA. I was a food safety inspector there, which meant long hours on a giant assembly line cutting into cow parts. Two years is all I could handle and fortunately I found my first job in water at SACWSD. 

     

    I never thought I’d hear the words “sexy” and “cow parts” in that close of proximity to each other. Thank you for that. What was your trajectory from there? What did you start out doing at SACWSD and how did you get to where you are now?


    I started as an environmental “technician”. I worked in the water lab, wastewater lab, and industrial pretreatment all at once. It was a new position that had been created and looking back it was the best job ever for seeing everything about the water business. I am currently a Deputy Director at South Platte Renew. I got there by being patient, learning all I could in every job, and never saying no or I’m too busy to do that. 

     

    I like that….never saying no is a very consulting mindset to have, but it really takes you far because you never stop learning. What has been your favorite job/role over the years?


    I’ve loved them all. The lab is great because you get a result and it’s real and it’s done and you feel good. The further you get from the bench, the more things seem to be less concrete. My favorite role though is my current position. The other day I was on a boat in Barr Lake in the morning looking at lake monitoring probes and in a Denver high rise in the afternoon talking about the facility master plan. It reinforced to me that I have the best job in the world. 


    Variety is great! And the boat sounds so awesome! Especially with this amazing fall weather we have been having. Name one lab-related challenge you faced in your career and how you overcame it.


    The one I can think of is operating the lab during a remodel. Imagine the effects of dust and vibration and construction on a TSS test. We set up quarters in a tent in the garage and did the best we could. It was a lesson in no whining. We got it done and met permit requirements. 

    I remember that remodel! The best thing about it was not having to wash BOD bottles. You let us splurge on the disposable bottles. But that was really the only good thing about it. You have done so many cool things in your free time….writing, comedy, and now your podcast. How did the podcast come about?


    When I switched jobs and started at South Platte Renew my commute lengthened (I live in Arvada). I started listening to podcasts on the way to and from work. I looked for Colorado Water podcasts but didn’t find too many. Then of course I thought “I could do that” and went about figuring out how to do it. It’s fun. I love interviewing different guests and talking water. It’s therapeutic. Which is good because therapy ain’t cheap. If any lab folks want to be on the podcast I’d love to do an episode on the laboratory side of water and wastewater. 


    If any of our readers are interested, you can shoot Blair a message at: bcorning@englewoodco.gov. Be sure to follow the Streaming Water Podcast….there are some really awesome episodes. My favorite is Season 3, Episode 4, Airborne Snow Measurement with Taylor Winchell and Jeff Deems. I learned some awesome stuff about snowpack in Colorado. Tell the readers about how you first came across the RMWQAA and about your involvement in the group when you joined.


    I got involved because of Joan Chavez, my wastewater lab supervisor. She had been in the group and encouraged me to get involved and introduced me to some members. I’m glad she did that because it is just what I needed at that time. I was new to the industry and didn’t know what I knew or didn’t know so it really helped having some lab friends. Joan was unselfish and wanted to build people up. It was something I tried to carry on. 


    You carried that on by doing the same for me when I was in your lab! I joined in 2005 and I met so many awesome people, many of whom I’m still friends with today. What advice do you have for someone just starting out in the wastewater industry, besides getting involved in a professional organization? That’s always my number one piece of advice since it helped me so much in my career.


    My biggest piece of advice is Give the people what they want. It’s that simple. Whether it’s your boss, your board, the public, etc., just give them what they want. I spent years giving people what I thought they should want or I wanted them to want but when I learned to understand what they wanted everything became easier. 
     

    That’s some really sound advice Blair. Thanks so much for taking part in this interview!! To wrap it up, if you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room, what would you choose and why?


    This one is easy. There’s a dive bar by my house and before I go in I play Muskrat Love by Captain and Tennille on TouchTunes. I did this for two years before they finally made the Pavlovian connection that when that song came on - I walked in. It was a bonus because this is a metal, Creedence, Lynard Skynard type place, so Muskrat Love totally disrupts everything. That’s the beauty of it. 


    Ha!! That’s amazing….you legit have a walk-in song!! Love it. Thanks Blair!


    Natalie Love is the Laboratory Research Manager at Metro Water Recovery and has not been in the industry as long as Blair but agrees with all his great advice. 
  • 26 Sep 2023 6:53 AM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    Whether you need an essay for school, to compose an e-mail to your workgroup, or even a personal assistant, there is an easy to use AI platform waiting to assist.  Although AI may be too easy to use. Anyone with a pc and an internet connection can use and program an AI platform to perform any number of tasks, no coding or programming experience necessary. 


    This year the use of AI has surged as never before.  The response to this utilization of AI technology spans the full gambit of those who say, “Wait, remember Skynet?” to those who say, “It’s about time I’m all in, 100%.”  No matter where you stand on the issue AI is not going away. 


    Historically the scientific community has enthusiastically embraced new technology and this is true for laboratories today.  However, many in the scientific community are divided. Some say the brakes need to be applied to slow the process to evaluate and govern what can be done.  Others encourage free experimentation, insisting we will get the best results by letting AI work unrestricted.  


    This has raised some very important questions:

    What about the ethics of AI?  What ethical guidelines have been established for the use of AI in scientific laboratories?  Since AI changes so rapidly, how can any guidelines be kept current as it advances?


    AI has been used to speed up research and productivity in labs.  Machine learning has reportedly contributed to the approval of certain vaccines faster than previously achievable.  The advantages seem to be endless.  The potential for advancement seems to be endless, but is the potential risk just as high?


    The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, (AAAI) and other agencies have called for the need to implement some sort of modified Hippocratic Oath “First, do no harm”.  What if the humans utilizing the AI are unethical and use the platforms in a questionable way?  Yes, we all have heard of the lab analyst or operator that was terminated because they “dry labbed” the numbers.  Or the lab managers that have ordered results be thrown out or not reported because they violated a DMR or permit. 


    Most of us in the RMWQAA do not work in pharmaceutical and medical research labs, but the water and wastewater world could be affected as well.  Method detection limits (MDLs) and maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) are continuously being lowered.  Could the pressure to keep up with new guidelines and regulations cause the manufacturers of instruments and method developers to look to AI for solutions?  Will the technology adhere to industry standards of ethics and work?  Only time will reveal the answers to these and other questions.


    Just for fun, I asked a popular platform the following question:

    How can we meet new EPA MDL requirements for water analysis?


    Here is the lengthy answer I received (Spoiler Alert: Nothing groundbreaking was revealed but AI did not recommend using AI):


    Meeting the new Minimum Detectable Level (MDL) requirements for water analysis set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can be challenging but is crucial for ensuring the accuracy and reliability of water quality data. Here are steps and strategies to help you meet these requirements:

    1.    Understand EPA MDL Requirements: Familiarize yourself with the specific MDL requirements outlined in EPA methods relevant to your water analysis. These requirements can vary depending on the method and the analyte being measured.

    2.    Select Appropriate Analytical Techniques: Choose analytical techniques and instruments that are capable of achieving the desired MDLs. This might involve using more sensitive equipment or methods, such as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), or inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).

    3.    Calibration and Quality Control: Ensure that your laboratory's calibration procedures are accurate and precise. Regularly calibrate instruments and verify their performance using certified standards. Implement stringent quality control procedures to monitor and maintain instrument performance.

    4.    Sample Collection and Preservation: Proper sample collection and preservation are critical to obtaining accurate results. Follow EPA-prescribed procedures for sample collection, storage, and transportation to prevent contamination and degradation.

    5.    Method Validation: Validate your chosen analytical method to demonstrate its accuracy, precision, and reliability. This typically involves running known standards and spiked samples to assess the method's performance.

    6.    Instrument Maintenance and Upkeep: Regularly maintain and service your analytical instruments to ensure they operate at peak efficiency. Any equipment malfunction or deterioration can negatively impact MDLs.

    7.    Staff Training and Competency: Ensure that your laboratory staff is well-trained and competent in the specific analytical methods they are using. Continuous training and skill development are essential.

    8.    Use Certified Reference Materials (CRMs): Incorporate CRMs into your analysis process to verify the accuracy of your results. CRMs are standardized materials with known concentrations of target analytes.

    9.    Blank and Matrix Spike Analysis: Include blank samples and matrix spike samples in your analysis to assess and correct for background contamination and matrix effects.

    10. Data Quality Assessment: Regularly review and assess data quality. Identify and investigate outliers or unusual results promptly. Document all quality control measures and data quality assessments.

    11. Participate in Proficiency Testing Programs: Enroll in proficiency testing programs or inter-laboratory comparison studies to evaluate your laboratory's performance against other laboratories. This can help identify areas for improvement.

    12. Documentation and Reporting: Maintain thorough documentation of all procedures, methods, and quality control measures. Report your results accurately, including MDLs, in compliance with EPA guidelines.

    13. Stay Updated: Keep abreast of changes in EPA methods and requirements. The EPA periodically updates its methods and regulations, so it's important to stay informed and adapt accordingly.

    Meeting EPA MDL requirements for water analysis demands a commitment to high-quality analytical practices, rigorous quality control, and ongoing training and improvement. It's essential to ensure the accuracy and reliability of water quality data, which is vital for environmental protection and public health.


    Adele Rucker is the RMWQAA President and an Analytical Chemist in South Platte Renew’s Laboratory. 

  • 30 Aug 2023 10:15 AM | Tyler Eldridge (Administrator)

    In planning for the August blog post, I toyed around with a few ideas, mulling over the usual topics. I thought about another update on “The Ocean Cleanup,” with their focus on large ocean patches and intercepting trash flowing through rivers; however, that would be the 3rd or 4th installment on this blog (I’ll still happily plug the above link to their work though!).


    Water-saving tips didn’t seem necessary this year given the amount of rain we’ve had on the Eastern Slope, and while municipalities may see some shortages in water use revenue, “Water Using Tips” just didn’t have the same ring to it.


    Having drifted further from the laboratory side of the process over the past few years, I didn’t feel like I was quite as qualified to take another deep dive into lab techniques, PFAS draft method conversations and issues, or general best practices. Mostly, the recent space between myself and the lab environment has allowed me to further embrace the “mad scientist” portion of my brain. Brent and Callie would likely confirm this, as I barge in seemingly once a day with a new plan for process control analyses, hoping they don’t form a picket line at the lab entrance. It now seems clear that a blog specific to lab practices would be better authored by someone other than myself, one who is capable of reading Standard Methods intently and often enough to differentiate “the GGA bottles” from “three GGA bottles…”


    Given this drift from the lab it became obvious that my focus with regards to lab work had shifted. It was no longer my specific task to obtain and report accurate, defensible results, but instead I was now the requester of information. My goal was to help determine what sort of analyses would be beneficial, and reasonable to add to Lab Staff’s daily workload. Luckily, we have a fantastic pair of analysts that never shies away from learning new analyses or helping to provide additional data. More incredibly, there was never any distain or grumblings from staff related to my additional requests out of the blue. Pile on a brand-new process that has them analyzing new and increasingly frequent samples, it became clear that the workhorse that is our lab has been vital, and often overlooked. Hell, I am guilty of overlooking the impact and importance my own crew of analysts had in the grand scheme of designing, starting, and maintaining a new treatment process.


    So there it was, I had found my blog topic, an homage to Laboratory Staff and their importance in the water quality industry! Unfortunately, my month-long plan for creating a well-thought-out appreciation letter was quickly approaching the wall that is the end of the month… Then it dawned on me, it’s 2023, Artificial Intelligence is all the rage right now, a blog post seemed like a relatively harmless way to test an AI writing prompt. Combining fresh new technology with my appreciation of the work Lab Staff puts in was a win-win given my self-imposed time crunch! So, in a last minute effort to fulfill my agreed upon terms of posting a blog before September, I prompted an AI writing program to highlight the importance of Lab Staff, and our appreciation for all of you!


    Rather than continue rambling on, I present you RMWQAA’s first ever AI generated blog post! I do feel that the first paragraph reads best in the tone of the Law and Order: SVU intro:


    In the water and wastewater treatment industry, there are countless individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the safety and quality of our water supply. Among these dedicated professionals are the laboratory staff - a group of eager and always available individuals who form the foundation of research and analysis in this vital industry.


    The importance of laboratory staff cannot be overstated. They play a crucial role in monitoring and testing water samples, analyzing data, and detecting any potential contaminants or impurities. Their expertise ensures that our drinking water and treated wastewater meets strict safety standards, protecting public health and the environment on a daily basis.


    Beyond their technical skills, laboratory staff bring an invaluable level of dedication to their work. They understand the gravity of their responsibilities and approach their tasks with utmost care and precision. Their commitment to accuracy is commendable as even the smallest error in analysis could have significant implications for public health.


    Laboratory staff also serve as a vital support system for other professionals in the water treatment industry. They collaborate closely with engineers, scientists, and operators to provide essential data that informs decision-making processes. Their insights help identify areas for improvement, optimize treatment processes, and ensure compliance with regulatory standards.


    Moreover, laboratory staff are at the forefront of innovation within the industry. They continuously explore new techniques and technologies to enhance testing methods and improve efficiency. Their research contributes to advancements in water treatment practices, leading to more effective solutions for safeguarding our water resources.


    It is important that we recognize and appreciate the hard work of laboratory staff in this field. Their contributions often go unnoticed by the general public; however, without their diligent efforts, we would not have access to clean drinking water or effective wastewater treatment systems.


    To show appreciation towards these unsung heroes, it is crucial that organizations invest in ongoing training opportunities for laboratory staff. This will enable them to stay updated with emerging trends in technology and methodology while further honing their skills.


    Furthermore, creating a supportive work environment where open communication is encouraged can also boost morale and foster a sense of belonging among laboratory staff. Recognizing their achievements and providing opportunities for professional growth will not only motivate them but also attract talented individuals to join the industry.


    In conclusion, the laboratory staff in the water and wastewater treatment industry are a valuable asset. Their unwavering commitment, technical expertise, and dedication to research make them indispensable to the smooth functioning of this critical sector. It is our collective responsibility to appreciate their contributions and support their continued growth as they work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the safety and quality of our most precious resource - water.


    I truly appreciate all the hard work our Lab Staff, and Lab Staff across the State puts toward the water quality industry. My hope is that the impact you have does not go unseen or unheard! And don't worry, I plan to show my appreciation to my Staff in more ways than simply "investing in ongoing training opportunities" as AI suggested!


    Tyler Eldridge holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Colorado State University. He has been in the Wastewater Treatment industry with the City of Greeley for the past 7 years as a Water Quality Analyst, Data and Asset Manager, and more recently Greeley’s Wastewater Treatment and Reclamation Facility Superintendent. Much of his time is currently spent playing tea party with his 2 year old daughter, or attempting to help release her seemingly infinite amount of energy.

  • 10 Jul 2023 10:09 AM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    There are several new and revised rules for drinking water on the horizon. UCMR5 is one of those rules.


    What is UCMR (Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule)? 

    • In 1996 the Safe Drinking Water Amendment required that once every 5 years the EPA issue a list of no more than 30 unregulated contaminants to be monitored for by public water systems. These contaminants are suspected to be present in drinking water but do not yet have health-based standards.

    What is the purpose of the program?

    • Collect nationally representative occurrence data for unregulated contaminants
    • Provides information on the population exposed
    • Data is considered as part of future EPA decisions to protect public health through regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act

    Who must monitor?

    • Public water systems (PWS) serving a population 10,000 people, small systems (3,300-10,000 people) this requirement is based on the availability of funding and sufficient lab capacity, as well as a nationally representative sample of PWS serving ≤ 3,300 people

    What is UCMR5-It is the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule.

    • Requires monitoring for 29 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and lithium
    • Monitor at the entry point to the distribution system
    • Monitoring occurs 2023-2025
    • Surface water, groundwater under the direct influence of surface water, or mixed source systems must monitor 4 times during a consecutive 12-month monitoring period. Sample events must occur 3 months apart
    • Groundwater systems must monitor 2 times during a consecutive 12-month monitoring period. Sample events must occur 5-7 months apart.

    How were sampling schedules established?

    • EPA initially drafted schedules and large PWS had the opportunity to review and modify their schedule through December 31, 2022. Large systems had to register for EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Accession and Review System  “SDWARS”, accept their notification letter, and update sampling location(s), shipping address, and zip code(s).

    Which labs are EPA approved to perform the analyses?

    What happens after sample collection?

    • Within 90 days of sample collection, laboratories post data to SDWARS.
    • Within 30 days of the laboratory posting data, large water systems review and approve the data. If the system hasn’t acted upon the data after 30 days, the data are considered approved and ready for state and EPA review.

    Where can consumers find UCMR results?

    • All systems are required to report their data to EPA. The analytical results from UCMR are stored in the National Contaminant Occurrence Database (NCOD) for drinking water. 
    • The Public Notification Rule requires that all systems notify their customers of the availability of UCMR results no later than 12-months after results are known. Community Water Systems (CWSs) are also required to report UCMR results in their annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) when unregulated contaminants are detected (the CCR Rule does not apply to non-community water systems). CWSs may include their public notice within CCRs, also known as annual drinking water quality reports, which are to be delivered to all billing customers by July 1 of each year. CWSs must report the average of the year’s monitoring results and the range of detections.


    Lesa Julian is the Environmental Services Superintendent for the City and County of Broomfield. She has worked for the City for 32 years.

  • 23 Jun 2023 12:07 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    Welcome Wonderful Blog Readers!


    It’s time to test your knowledge about the Colorado River and its effect on the American Southwest.


    Amid the news earlier this year of the extreme droughts in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and California, I recently read that Lake Oroville, California’s second largest reservoir is back at 100% capacity after heavy snows and rains. And this is less than two years after

    the lake was so low that a hydroelectric plant there had to shut down due to low levels (1).


    However, despite large rainfalls and snow melt in the Colorado River basin, Lake Mead is still lower than any other recent year except 2022 and is 174 feet below full and only 105 feet above deadpool, the level where water will no longer flow by gravity through the Hoover Dam (2). Lake Powell is up 55 feet in the last 2 months (3); it is 200 feet above deadpool and about 125 feet below full. (3)


    Recent increases in water in the Colorado River drainage and in other areas in the Southwest are great news! However, long term management of Colorado River water remains a huge challenge.


    The Colorado River is key to almost all water issues in the American Southwest. Here is your chance to test your knowledge of the Colorado River. Test your best answers against the answer key at the end.


    1.       The Colorado River begins in ________and ends in__________ (4)?

    a.       Rocky Mountain National Park, the Gulf of California

    b.       Lake Dillon, the Pacific Ocean

    c.       Lake Powell, Lake Mead

    d.       Lake Itaska, the Gulf of Mexico


    2.       The Colorado River provides water for how many people (5)?

    a.       6.0221415 X 1023

    b.       Billions upon billions

    c.       40 million

    d.       99 million


    3.       What is the largest reservoir in America by volume (6)?

    a.       Lake Powell, AZ

    b.       Lake Shasta, CA

    c.       Flaming Gorge Reservoir, WY and UT

    d.       Lake Mead, NV


    4.       The Colorado Rivers irrigates __________ acres of land (5).

    a.       100 million

    b.       100, 000

    c.       5.7 million

    d.       More than a bundle, but less than a grip


    5.       How much of the Colorado River water is used for irrigation (5)?

    a.        37%

    b.       1,000,000 %

    c.       Less than 12 parsecs

    d.       80%


    6.       The amount of Colorado River water for all uses breaks down how (7)?

    a.       10% livestock feed, 27% other agriculture, 56% residential, 7% industrial

    b.       1% livestock feed, 90% winter vegetables, 6% residential, 3% other

    c.       13% political infighting, 32% swimming pools, 55% keep the oceans full

    d.       56% livestock feed, 24% other crops, 12% residential, 8% power and industrial


    7.       Which plan below for augmenting Colorado River water has been studied by the Federal Government (8)?

    a.       Trucking in ice from Alaskan glaciers using a group of 220 specially equipped trucks that continuously drive between Alaska and Lake Powell.

    b.       Carve off ice from the polar ice caps on Mars using lasers and tow it back to earth using unmanned spaceships.

    c.       Pipe water from the Mississippi delta using 88 foot diameter pipes to cover the 1500 mile distance and over 1 mile elevation gain.

    d.       Cover stretches of the Colorado River with special tarps that reduce losses from evaporation by 63-79%.




    Answer key:


    1.       a.

    2.       c.

    3.       d.

    4.       c.

    5.       d.

    6.       d.

    7.       c.



    These references below are interesting reads/facts about the Colorado River and water in the West:


    (1)    https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2023/06/14/us/lake-oroville-california-drought-climate/index.html

    (2)    https://mead.uslakes.info/level.asp

    (3)    https://lakepowell.water-data.com/

    (4)    https://water.utah.gov/interstate-streams/colorado-river-story/#:~:text=The%20mighty%20Colorado%20River%20serves,and%20two%20states%20in%20Mexico.

    (5)    https://farmland.org/colorado-river-challenges-pose-risks-to-western-agriculture/#:~:text=In%20fact%2C%20the%20Colorado%20River,the%20size%20of%20New%20Hampshire.(6)    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largaest_reservoirs_in_the_United_States

    (7)    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/05/22/climate/colorado-river-water.html

    (8)    https://apnews.com/article/science-arizona-state-government-california-disaster-planning-and-response-automated-insights-earnings-be28e7e022007c82cdee63ca2b9ed555


    Rich MacAlpine is a volunteer member of the RMWQAA Board and would love to see everyone at the July 27 RMWQAA social!


  • 30 May 2023 10:12 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    Many of you may be studying for a test so I thought I would try to write down a recent presentation I did for Aurora. It can be difficult to know where to start with this process. I would propose, the first thing to do is get a plan together. Here are some key questions: When is the test? How long do you have to study each day? What is the list of topics? Which topics are you already comfortable with and need less time? Once you know the answer to those questions make a study plan and stick to it! It is better to do more, shorter study sessions than long cramming. If you do have to do a long session, take frequent breaks. Plan to study, or at least run through flash cards right before bed. Your brain will continue to wire those neurons while you sleep.


    In order to learn, you have to struggle. Meaning you have to activate the connections between your neurons and you have to do it multiple times to make sure the connection is solid. Just reading or glancing at material is not going to make a solid connection. If repetition is key then using a variety of study techniques is also key. Engage as many of your senses as possible. Read about a topic, write it in your own words, talk to someone about it – talk to yourself about it (out loud), listen to a video, take quizzes or do activities, make flash cards. The more of these techniques you can use the better your neurons will connect and most importantly, your recall of the material will be enhanced.


    Use colored pens and notecards for studying. You will make an association with the colors and be able to remember the topic better. Consider using a set of colors for each topic. When you make flashcards, just the creation of them will be a good study technique. You can then use them traditionally and I suggest sorting and resorting them into different categories. You can also make up poems or songs or acronyms for material. They don’t have to make sense, but they will help you connect material.


    If you are studying and taking practice tests, getting answers wrong also helps you understand where you need more studying. Read different sources so you get different perspectives on the material. You can use videos or recordings of yourself repeating the material. Make sure when you choose videos or material online, that you are picking good sources. You don’t want to study incorrect information.


    Now, you’ve studied everything and it’s time to take the test. My number one and most important advice is to BREATHE! Taking a deep breath before you start will help you calm your nerves and relax you. You can do this, you are prepared! You went to bed early last night, you didn’t stay up cramming because you had a plan and stuck to it! Perfect right?


    Maybe, but maybe it wasn’t perfect so here’s a few things to consider as you take the test.

    When you read the question, make sure you read the entire question carefully. Write down key things in the question. Write down the answer before you look at the answers. Then read the answers. Find the best answer. Some might be close, but maybe not THE BEST. Eliminate the most obviously wrong answers. It's important to select the best answer to the question being asked, not just an answer that seems correct. Often many answers will seem correct, but there is typically a best answer to the question.


    Pay particularly close attention to the words not, sometimes, always, and never. An answer that includes always must be irrefutable. If you can find a single counterexample, then the answer is not correct. The same holds true for the word never. If an answer option includes the word never, a single counterexample will indicate the answer is not correct.

    More often than not, the correct answer usually contains more information than the other options. This is good to know if you must guess.


    Usually, your first choice is the best choice – you’ve wired those neurons so trust them! DO NOT CHANGE YOUR ANSWER! This is a good rule to live by for test taking. If you think you mis-read the question or mis-understood the question the first time you answered it, maybe change the answer. I say you must have a very good reason to change your first choice.


    If you come across questions you don’t know, skip them and come back later. Answering the questions you know will build your confidence. Once in a while, you will find a question that either answers the question you didn’t know or triggers your memory and helps you answer it.


    Again, my number one advice for tests is BREATHE! Remember I said repetition is key! BREATHE!


    Good Luck! I know you can do it!


    Sherry Scaggiari is the Environmental Services Manager at the City of Aurora. Sherry has a chemistry degree from CSU and made her start in environmental contract labs over 30 years ago. She has worked for the City of Aurora for 15 years. She is responsible for compliance for Aurora Water including water, wastewater, stormwater.


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