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Monthly Blog

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

  • 30 Jan 2021 8:52 AM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    Besides popping a bottle of champagne with friends, staying up until midnight dancing the night away, and watching the count down to the ball drop in Times Square in anticipation of a kiss or a hug from that special so and so……wait, let me re-phrase, it was the end of 2020 after all.  Besides drinking a bottle of wine by yourself, watching the Twilight Zone marathon, then falling asleep on the couch at 9:30 pm, another tradition that comes with a new year is the procrastination of a half-hearted attempt at coming up with personal goals to improve the essential aspects of daily life, or the new years resolution. Research has shown that 50% of adults in the U.S. make New Year's resolutions, but fewer than 10% actually keep them for more than a few months (1). But come on people its 2021!  We can do better than that! Below are a few links to help you keep on track with your new years resolutions!






    1: https://www.westernconnecticuthealthnetwork.org/newsroom/article-listing/new-years-resolutions#:~:text=re%20not%20alone.-,Research%20shows%20that%20as%20many%20as%2050%20percent%20of%20adults,from%20the%20COVID%2D19%20pandemic.

    Ashley Romero is the Laboratory Manager at GEI Consultants, Inc. and has a background in ecotoxicology.

  • 30 Dec 2020 8:58 AM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    Whether you wear prescription glasses, safety glasses, or sunglasses, you're sure to notice the imminent fog caused by the required masks. This fog can be annoying and downright dangerous, and it is only going to get worse as the temperatures continue to decrease. Because I am blind without my glasses and rely on my mask for COVID-19 protection, I decided to research to find a way to make these two necessities work together.

    Let's discuss why your glasses fog up in the first place. As you exhale, the water molecules in your breath hit your face mask. Depending on how porous the material is, some will penetrate, some will be absorbed, and most will be directed to the path of least resistance - typically the space at the top between your mask and cheeks. Because your glasses are colder than the air inside your mask, your breath will condensate on them, causing the annoying fog.

    One way to keep your glasses from fogging up is to ensure that your mask fits properly with an adjustable noseband. If your mask does not have a noseband, you can always make one out of pipe cleaners and secure it to the top of your mask. After trying several different types of masks with built-in nosebands, it still allows for some air to come through and fog your glasses. The noseband helps but is not the best solution.

    A method that works well with some of the masks I own is using your glasses to seal the top of the mask. If you pull your mask up higher on the bridge of your nose, you can set your glasses on your mask, ensuring that there is no gap for your breath to escape. I have found that some mask material allows my glasses to slide down my nose, and other masks create a gap between my chin and mask when I pull it up for this method. It works in a pinch, but there has to be a better way!

    Healthcare workers insist that their secret for fogging glasses is using soap and water. When they wash their hands, they also give their glasses a lather and rinse. The soap is supposed to leave a film on the glasses that keeps them from fogging up. I tried with a mild hand soap first then moved onto dishwasher soap, both with no avail. Maybe the healthcare workers have a stronger detergent that works better for the anti-fogging, but as far as I have seen, the soap and water do not provide any added benefit.

    Mask extenders claim to help with the fogging issue by linking the ear loops of your mask on the back of your head, providing a tighter fit of your mask on your face. Not only are mask extenders more comfortable for your ears, they narrow the space where your breath typically escapes between your mask and cheeks. You can buy these online, ask your bored mother to knit you one, or even improvise with some paper clips. Using the mask extenders with a mask that has an adjustable noseband will give you the best results. When trying this method, I only had fogging when I exhaled really big breaths, so this could be a reasonable solution to the fogging issue.

    Using a tissue to block the space between your cheeks and mask was mentioned on Facebook as a fogging solution. I folded a tissue neatly and placed it along the top of my mask. It took some trial and error to get it right without blocking my nostrils. The space was minimized along with the fogging, but the tissue did get damp over time. I suggest if you use this method, replace your tissue often!

    Dr. Daniel Heiferman, a neurosurgeon in Memphis, tweeted a tip that he uses in the operating room to keep his loupes from fogging during surgery. A BANDAID! He realized that a bandaid placed on the bridge of the nose eliminated the fogging and provided protection against irritation. Simply secure the bandaid with the cotton part on the bridge of your nose, with half the sticky part on the mask and the other half on your face. This completely eradicates the gap between your face and the mask, which shifts the escaping air to a different gap, eliminating fogging completely! The bandaid is also textured enough to prevent your glasses from sliding down the bridge of your nose. After trying all the other methods, this is the one that I recommend!

    There are some other suggestions out there that I did not get to try. Some of these include anti-fog wipes and sprays, using random household items (raw potato, toothpaste, or shaving cream) on your lenses to prevent fogging. Before doing any of these, ensure that the special coatings on your glasses will not be affected!

    It does not sound like we will be out of masks anytime soon, so if you have fogging issues, give these methods a shot! Stay safe out there and wash your hands!

    Lindie Aragon is a Chemist for the City of Westminster’s Big Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility.

  • 22 Nov 2020 4:32 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    Before Covid-19 changed our lives as we know it, I personally had only been exposed to the world of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) through some conference presentations here and there. With the state-wide WBE work this year to monitor the levels of SARS-CoV-2 in the front range population, I thought it would be interesting to look at the different ways WBE is used to protect our communities.

    Collective drug use in a community

    WBE provides a way to look at drug use in areas, both licit and illicit, and has the benefit of avoiding surveys and the sampling bias that comes with general studies. Spatial snapshots of a location's wastewater help us to understand geographical trends in drug consumption. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction analyzed the wastewater of 70 European cities in 2019 to discover geographical trends and patterns of cocaine, 3,4-Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine (also known as MDMA, Ecstasy, or Molly to name a few), amphetamine and methamphetamine. Data and findings can be found here.

    Analyzing WBE data over time gives us an idea of how drug use in a location is affected by outside factors. A study in the state of Washington looked to analyze the impact that legalization of cannabis had on the state's rate of usage. To evaluate cannabis use, the study measured wastewater concentrations of the byproduct of the active compound in cannabis. The wastewater pointed to a doubling in consumption over the 3-year period of testing. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.14641

    Population and Health Behavior

    Wastewater provides us with so much information about ourselves. A study in Australia during 2016 looked at wastewater for a range of diet, drug, pharmaceutical, and lifestyle biomarkers.   These markers were compared to the population's social, demographic, and economic properties. Some findings include higher use of the opioid-based pain reliever tramadol  in areas with more physical laborers. Higher antidepressant use and lower levels of dietary fiber were found in less educated areas. .  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1910242116

    Virus monitoring/eradication

    WBE provides us with a way to monitor the spread and emergence of viruses in an environment. Polio is an example of a virus that can be closely monitored with a high-quality WBE surveillance system to avoid wild-type polio from spreading in areas. A study performed between 2010 and 2013 explains how two sewage plants in Japan monitored trace polioviruses and how this surveillance is key in controlling polio’s spread. https://doi.org/10.1128/aem.03575-14  

    WBE is being used worldwide to gather information to complement health agencies and epidemiologists in our fight against SARS-CoV-2. By providing a total account of increasing and decreasing levels of the virus, the potential for WBE to help with the current pandemic is promising. The water research foundation provides more information regarding the numerous efforts across the United States https://www.waterrf.org/. For more information about the Colorado Front Range WBE program, please reach out to CDPHE’s Communications Manager – MaryAnn Nason at maryann.nason@state.co.us.

    Danny McCausland is an Analyst II at the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District. He has 7 years experience working in the water quality field. 



    Burgard, D. A., Williams, J., Westerman, D., Rushing, R., Carpenter, R., LaRock, A., Sadetsky, J., Clarke, J., Fryhle, H., Pellman, M., & Banta‐Green, C. J. (2019). Using wastewater‐based analysis to monitor the effects of legalized retail sales on cannabis consumption in Washington State, USA. Addiction, 114(9), 1582–1590. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.14641

    Choi, P. M., Tscharke, B., Samanipour, S., Hall, W. D., Gartner, C. E., Mueller, J. F., Thomas, K. V., & O’Brien, J. W. (2019). Social, demographic, and economic correlates of food and chemical consumption measured by wastewater-based epidemiology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(43), 21864–21873. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1910242116

    European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2020, March 12). Wastewater analysis and drugs: A European multi-city study. https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/2757/POD_Wastewater%20analysis_update2020.pdf

    Nakamura, T., Hamasaki, M., Yoshitomi, H., Ishibashi, T., Yoshiyama, C., Maeda, E., Sera, N., & Yoshida, H. (2015). Environmental Surveillance of Poliovirus in Sewage Water around the Introduction Period for Inactivated Polio Vaccine in Japan. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81(5), 1859–1864. https://doi.org/10.1128/aem.03575-14

  • 19 Oct 2020 7:56 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    October is National Energy Action Month, a time to raise awareness of energy sustainability and the important role you can provide to help ensure a healthier future for everyone. Whether you realize it or not, it requires a lot of energy to provide clean water to your community. According to the EPA, "[for] many municipal governments, drinking water and wastewater plants typically are the largest energy consumers, often accounting for 30 to 40 percent of total energy consumed. Overall, drinking water and wastewater systems account for approximately 2 percent of energy use in the United States, adding over 45 million tons of greenhouse gases annually." 

    Below are some fast facts on drinking water and wastewater utility energy as covered in the EPA’s Ensuring a Sustainable Future: An Energy Management Guidebook for Wastewater and Water Utilities (PDF).

    • Water and wastewater industries account for an estimated 75 billion kWh of overall U.S. electricity demand.
    • Drinking water and wastewater systems in the U.S. spend about $4 billion a year on energy to pump, treat, deliver, collect, and clean water.
    • Energy efficiency investments often have outstanding rates of return and can reduce costs at a facility by 5%, 10%, 25%, or more.
    • Energy costs for water and wastewater can be 1/3 of a municipality's total energy bill.
    • If drinking water and wastewater systems reduce energy use by just 10% through cost-effective investments, collectively they could save approximately $400 million and 5 billion kWh annually.

    Overall, there are many benefits to energy conservation. Not only can it be eco-friendly, but also can help reduce cost on expensive bills. There are many actions that can be taken both in the workplace and at home to create energy efficiency. If you want to learn more about energy efficiency for water utilities, the EPA’s website has a great section that covers all of the different ways to cut energy usage and cost. Let’s do our part and help create a more energy efficient future.

    Website links:





    Michael Hendricks is the Water Quality Supervisor for GEI Consultants He has worked in the industry since 2014 and holds a BA in Biological Science from Colorado State University.

  • 22 Sep 2020 1:08 PM | Tyler Eldridge (Administrator)

    This year has brought challenges to us all, and in the era of a 24-hour news cycle and social media, it can be difficult to siphon through the negatives to find some positive news. There are still, however, uplifting and exciting efforts being put forth daily, so to kick off Fall 2020 I have put together a short list of some positive stories pertaining to water, or water byproducts, that might otherwise go under the radar.

    • 1)     You may have heard that many of the beautiful, biodiversity-filled, tourist attractions known as coral reefs are in danger of disappearing entirely over the course of the next decade. Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a list of positive news? Luckily, Rolex (yes that Rolex) has helped support individuals taking on major challenges to help improve our natural world. One of those individuals is explorer and marine biologist Emma Camp. Corals typically thrive in clean waters that boast little sediment and nutrients, along with a stable temperature and lots of oxygen. Many of these habitats are being threatened by climate change and acidifying oceans, but recently Camp has observed corals with the ability to survive in conditions that are more extreme than what is expected in the next few centuries. These species of corals survive, and thrive, in murky waters of mangroves and show resiliency to the conditions many of the world’s reefs are experiencing. Camp goes on to describe similar locations, or “hotspots of resilience,” found in the Great Barrier Reef. While reversing the destruction of the oceans that humanity has caused is of great importance, it is also important to learn how these corals survive, and use the resiliency of nature itself to help rebuild what has been lost. Her research, focused on the behavior and genetics of these hearty corals, will ideally be used to help repopulate reefs impacted by changing conditions, allowing them to maintain vibrant and diverse ecosystems throughout the world. Rolex has this story, and numerous others focused on meaningful change on their Awards Website. If only there were more efforts being put towards carbon capture and reversing the effects climate change have had on the oceans themselves…

    • 2)     ...Never fear, aquatic plants are to the rescue! We all know how effective trees are with respect to carbon capture, but that carbon can also quickly be released (see wildfire examples across the country). What if that carbon could be sequestered for millennia or longer at the bottom of the ocean? A startup in Maine, Running Tide, is hoping for just that. Originally a shellfish farming company, they are shifting their sights towards a radical kelp project to help take some pressure off of forests on land. Offsets will be necessary if we are to change the course of our planet’s future, and a 2019 study showed that using just a small fraction of California coastal waters to grow kelp could fully offset the entire state’s agricultural emissions. Shopify, a tech company investing in other companies focused on sustainability solutions, believes this could have a huge impact on the environment and put Running Tide on their list of investments. Kelp farms typically require a good bit of attention to maintain quality and ability to harvest, but in this case the kelp would be grown specifically to sink carbon to the depths and once up and running, would require little effort to maintain. Targeted ocean currents with the right nutrients and biodegradable buoys that will allow the farms to sink after a certain amount of time, are the basis of this idea. More research will be done farther into the ocean to see how the farms perform, but the hope is that they provide long-term carbon removal that will become oil or sediment at the bottom of the ocean over the course of centuries. Given the rate at which carbon has been thrust into the atmosphere over the past few decades, this seems like a logical, effective solution nature has given us to combat climate change and our carbon footprint. The whole story, written by Adele Peters, can be found at the Fast Company website.

    • 3)     The most valuable writer in this blog post, Adele Peters, continues her quest for ocean plant awareness with another hopeful article on seaweed. This article also has a bit to do with carbon capture, but far more to do with reducing emissions. Another startup with a brilliant idea, Volta Greentech, is about to begin commercial production of a red variety of seaweed.  Asparagopsis taxiformis can help reduce emissions in a far more unique way than you might think, by feeding it to cows. According to some estimates, cows produce the equivalent of 4-5% of total greenhouse gas emissions simply by belching methane. Researchers at UC Davis found that cattle feed consisting of just 1% seaweed reduced methane emissions by 60%, and tests in Australia noted that increasing the seaweed to 2% of the feed resulted in 99% reduced emissions! Production would ideally begin later this year, and the facility itself would use CO2 from carbon capture technology at polluting companies to feed the seaweed. This would provide an outlet for some captured carbon to be recycled into a process that would further limit emissions once fed to the cattle. While burgers and steaks still come at a cost environmentally, this option might at least be effective at reducing the equivalent of the airline industry’s emissions each year. Get the full details of their sustainability effort through this link to the Fast Company website.

    • 4)     Sticking with the apparently ocean based vibe of this blog post, I bring you a statistic about fish waste in the UK: 492,020 tons of it. Rebecca Smithers of The Guardian summarizes a brilliant idea from University of Sussex graduate designer Lucy Hughes. Hughes tackles the issue of single use plastic waste alongside the large volume of waste that processing fish produces. She created a biodegradable plastic alternative, MarinaTex, that could be used in place of single-use plastic products. Through her research she found that fish skins and scales were a great source for a plastic alternative. Combining fish scale proteins and red algae created bonds that could be formed into sheets that look and feel very similar to plastic. The product appears as though it could be stronger and safer than oil-based plastics, while also having the ability to break down in soil in 4-6 weeks. Hughes determined that the waste from one Atlantic cod could produce 1,400 bags of MarinaTex. Now she has the opportunity to win £30,000 in the final leg of her James Dyson award nomination, and help prevent single-use plastics from continuously polluting landfills and the environment. Guess I’ll have to switch to shrimp ramen to make sure my chicken flavor doesn’t taste fishy… Glean more information and links via The Guardian website.

    Honorable mentions:

    •        If you’re into "hacking" and gardening, check out this article by Andy Corbley about researchers modifying plant proteins and enzymes to produce more yield with less water here.
    •       The Ocean Cleanup has upped it’s game to preventing plastic pollution from even making it to the oceans, by intercepting plastic in rivers! Keep up to date with their progress since deploying their first system in 2019 on The Ocean Cleanup website.

    This blog was written by Tyler Eldridge, a Wastewater Laboratory Coordinator for the City of Greeley, and volunteers with RMWQAA as the main contact for website related issues. He has 3 years of experience in the industry and holds a BA in Biological Science from Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

    Full website links:







  • 26 Aug 2020 8:38 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    I know this topic is on everyone’s mind as you walk outside to see and smell the smokey wildfires burning around the state. With the devastation of wildfires burning precious land and polluting the air, comes the aftermath of the detrimental effects on water quality in the watershed. After the fire burns, vegetation is burned up leaving ash and nutrients to flow into the source water.

    Immediate impacts may occur as soot and ash increase solids loading, adding to the possibility of destruction to source water infrastructure and alterations to the physical watershed. It’s the aftermath and long-term effects on the ecology of the fire scorched landscape that will be costly. Runoff from burned areas contain elevated nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus with higher levels of organic carbon, turbidity, sediment and heavy metals which may have significant effects on the chemistry of the receiving water.  Higher nutrient loads from runoff could have an effect the on the water treatment process, which in turn, could create algae blooms in the storage reservoirs and lakes. Increases in organic carbon and turbidity will have a major impact on treatment abilities with higher chemical cost. Elevated carbon levels in raw water can result in higher total organic carbon (TOC) and turbidity in the distribution and result in higher disinfection byproduct (DBP) levels. Already low maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for DBPs, could cause non-compliance issues very easily with contaminated source water. There are also issues with pH adjustments and swings in alkalinity which need to be closely monitored in the water quality and treatment process.

    Severe occurrences of heavy rainfall after a burn will cause mudslides, severe erosion and large debris running off into water delivery systems. These occurrences can make the water unusable or inaccessible, requiring a quick decision for switching to alternative water sources. Depending on the location of the fire, there also poses a threat of higher concentrations of contaminating heavy metals. In Colorado, there are possibilities of historic mining areas containing large amounts of iron, manganese, sulfates or even fire retardant that will runoff into the water. Even more severe is increased levels of naturally occurring mercury in the soil that could contaminate the source water and even elevate levels of mercury in native fish.

    Be smart, prepared, and develop a plan to monitor when a wildfire occurs in your watershed. Some things to consider: What analytes are of concern, what locations are impacted, upstream comparison data, long term solutions, and how to prevent excessive nutrient ash runoff or mudslides with debris.

    Now is the time to create an emergency plan or update a previous plan that suites your water system. Some ideas to think about when planning for the future:

    -Put a plan in place to fund mitigation of wildfire destruction and spread. Support local forest services or the Unites States Forest Service (USFS) to help remove mountain pine beetle destroyed trees that act as fuel for these fires. They can also utilize GIS- based decision support tools which can manage sensitive areas and create buffer strips.

    -Plan ways to adapt to problems with redundancy in infrastructure and alternative canals or source water. Consider adjustable intake locations for canals and reservoirs due to broken trees, debris, and sedimentation causing blockages at intakes. Create redundancy with surrounding cities water sources and water towers in case of disruption of service.

    -Plan for increased water treatment cost in chemicals with elevated turbidity levels and sediment with more monitoring for water quality issues throughout the system. Have an internal troubleshooting guide.

    -Review other utilities case studies on wildfire management occurrences and possible solutions.

    If you are interested in preventing wildfire and water treatment, I recommend getting involved with the Watershed Wildfire Protection Group. They consist of a broad range of utilities and companies that have great ideas to solutions with a proactive stance of protecting watersheds from wildfires.

    I don’t mean to bring up another harsh issue as we are all dealing with COVID effects but now is the time to make proactive plans, write grants for forest mitigation, and prepare for possible catastrophic events with climate change making these events even worse or more frequent. To end on a positive note….forest fires also help in the natural cycle of forest growth, replenishment, and help new plants grow!

    John Winterton is the Laboratory Supervisor at the City of Northglenn.

  • 29 Jul 2020 9:04 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    Antibiotic resistance strains have been an issue of concern for many years.  Researchers at Rice University have come up with a new strategy to deal with them in wastewater treatment, they call it “wrap, trap, and zap.”

    Read the article below which was taken from Science Daily.

    Better wastewater treatment? It's a wrap

    A shield of graphene helps particles destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria and free-floating antibiotic resistance genes in wastewater treatment plants.

    The labs of Rice environmental scientist Pedro Alvarez and Yalei Zhang, a professor of environmental engineering at Tongji University, Shanghai, introduced microspheres wrapped in graphene oxide in the Elsevier journal Water Research.

    Alvarez and his partners in the Rice-based Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) have worked toward quenching antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" since first finding them in wastewater treatment plants in 2013.

    "Superbugs are known to breed in wastewater treatment plants and release extracellular antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) when they are killed as the effluent is disinfected," Alvarez said. "These ARGs are then discharged and may transform indigenous bacteria in the receiving environment, which become resistome reservoirs.

    "Our innovation would minimize the discharge of extracellular ARGs, and thus mitigate dissemination of antibiotic resistance from wastewater treatment plants," he said.

    The Rice lab showed its spheres -- cores of bismuth, oxygen and carbon wrapped with nitrogen-doped graphene oxide -- inactivated multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli bacteria and degraded plasmid-encoded antibiotic-resistant genes in secondary wastewater effluent.

    The graphene-wrapped spheres kill nasties in effluent by producing three times the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as compared to the spheres alone.

    The spheres themselves are photocatalysts that produce ROS when exposed to light. Lab tests showed that wrapping the spheres minimized the ability of ROS scavengers to curtail their ability to disinfect the solution.

    The researchers said nitrogen-doping the shells increases their ability to capture bacteria, giving the catalytic spheres more time to kill them. The enhanced particles then immediately capture and degrade the resistant genes released by the dead bacteria before they contaminate the effluent.

    "Wrapping improved bacterial affinity for the microspheres through enhanced hydrophobic interaction between the bacterial surface and the shell," said co-lead author Pingfeng Yu, a postdoctoral research associate at Rice's Brown School of Engineering. "This mitigated ROS dilution and scavenging by background constituents and facilitated immediate capture and degradation of the released ARGs."

    Because the wrapped spheres are large enough to be filtered out of the disinfected effluent, they can be reused, Yu said. Tests showed the photocatalytic activity of the spheres was relatively stable, with no significant decrease in activity after 10 cycles. That was significantly better than the cycle lifetime of the same spheres minus the wrap.

    Story Source:

    Materials provided by Rice UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

    Journal Reference:

    1.    Deyi Li, Pingfeng Yu, Xuefei Zhou, Jae-Hong Kim, Yalei Zhang, Pedro J.J. Alvarez. Hierarchical Bi2O2CO3 wrapped with modified graphene oxide for adsorption-enhanced photocatalytic inactivation of antibiotic resistant bacteria and resistance genesWater Research, 2020; 184: 116157 DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2020.116157

    Rice University. "Better wastewater treatment? It's a wrap: Trap-and-zap strategy for antibiotic resistant bugs becomes wrap, trap and zap." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 July 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200720164522.htm>

    Blog post provided by Adele Rucker, City of Aurora and RMWQAA President. 

  • 27 Jun 2020 10:33 AM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    It’s 9:00 pm and I’m tidying up after my 8-year-old who is running through the house with the 11-year-old on her tail. They aren’t playing tag or hide and seek. They are saving moths from the evil clutches of our ravenous puppy. Like everyone in town, our house is overrun with moths – Miller Moths to be exact. The puppy loves to eat them, the kids don’t want innocent lives to be lost. It’s a continuous battle.

    Miller Moths are a normal part of life in Colorado in the summer. Their lives begin as eggs which hatch into cutworms on the plains. The cutworms feed voraciously on alfalfa, wheat, and other plants and continue growing all winter. Then in the spring, they pupate underground and after a few weeks, they emerge as moths and migrate west to feed on nectar in the Rockies. The migration generally begins in late May to early June and lasts for 4-5 weeks with the first 2-3 being the worst. The number of moths flying around town depends on many things; cutworm predation, moth predation, weather conditions, and availability of vegetation to eat.

    Experts say this is actually just an average year. The last four years have been below average, skewing memories to make this year appear particularly bad. It turns out 1991 was the “heaviest, most prolonged flight of Miller Moths across Eastern Colorado.” I remember spending hours setting up buckets and bowls of soapy water under lamps in attempts to capture the Miller Moths for removal. The moths were so bad that year they would pile up an inch deep in garage window frames.

    In addition to our short memories, why does this “average” year seem so bad? Drier spring conditions in Colorado combined with the late April frost wiped out some of the vegetation, leaving less food and condensing the Millers around Denver to feed on the nectar from the remaining flowers. Whatever the reason, these moths have brought a level of excitement to our house every night. And you may be wondering why they are called Miller moths? According to the interwebs, the scales on the wings that frequently flake off reminded people of the flour dust that millers were covered in after their shift at the mill.

    To learn more about Miller Moths, check out these great websites that I referenced to write this blog post: 1) www.denver.cbslocal.com. Think Those Miller Moths are Everywhere? You’ll Be Seeing More of Them. By Karen Morfitt. May 25, 2020. 2) www.animalsake.com Looking for Information About the Miller Moths? Read These Facts. Accessed June 26, 2020.

    Natalie Love is the Lab Director at GEI Consultants, Inc. and realizes this story has nothing to do with water or the lab but has been curious about Miller Moths since at least 1991. 

  • 28 May 2020 7:52 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    In celebration of National Public Works Week which ran from May 17th through the 23rd, the City of Broomfield created this awesome video to celebrate the workers that are keeping the city running. See how many RMWQAA members you can count!

    2020 NPWW Video.mp4

    Lesa Julian has worked for the City and County of Broomfield for 29 years.  She is currently the Environmental Services Superintendent.

  • 30 Apr 2020 8:59 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

    Hi! We hope this finds you and yours safe and healthy during this time!

    In this era of COVID, most drinking water professionals, wastewater professionals, and those that work in labs and other professions that provide assistance to maintain critical infrastructure have been classified as “necessary”, and most are required to go in to work, even if it is on a modified schedule. This requirement exposes many to vectors that those that are working from home are not exposed to. Most are not ‘on the front lines’, but their services keep permit requirements intact, water quality high,   and reassure the public that a new public health crisis does not evolve from failing water treatment. Remember, through all of the craziness your contribution matters, and we appreciate all that you do!

    One positive thing about coronavirus; it does not ‘survive’ water treatment. There have been no cases of coronavirus in drinking water. Likewise, standard wastewater disinfection also renders coronavirus incapable of transmitting disease. Just imagine how much worse everything would be if this was not the case!

    However, coronavirus is known to be present in wastewater. This can cause extra concern for wastewater operators, lab analysts, and others exposed to raw wastewater. Whether or not the coronavirus in wastewater can cause disease is still an open question that needs more study. Some studies show that coronavirus can survive for several days in wastewater, while other testing has shown that coronavirus is inactivated by going through a human gut. In any case, the good news is that no known case of COVID 19 is known to have been transmitted via wastewater. The CDC calls wastewater ‘low risk’ for COVID 19. The CDC, OSHA, and WEF all agree that the normal engineered and administrative measures, PPE, and hygiene measures protect wastewater workers sufficiently from COVID 19. While the risk is low, wastewater workers must exercise extra diligence at work, even while already taking added measures like wearing masks and social distancing. Additionally, WRRFs are not assured of being able to get sufficient PPE because of the higher world demand.

    While we hope that wastewater does not have extra risks for workers, the coronavirus in wastewater has the possibility of becoming an important weapon in the fight against COVID 19. Because coronavirus is excreted in the feces and urine of affected persons, coronavirus in a sewer can be an early warning of COVID 19, and can be representative of the spread in the sewershed. It can also give important and timely information to public health decision-makers. This is known as Water Based Epidemiology (WBE), or Environmental Surveillance (ES). This is a developing field related to COVID 19 and has several hurdles before becoming relevant, but it is looking hopeful.

    Researchers in The Netherlands are credited for being first to test wastewater for coronavirus. They found coronavirus in wastewater even before the first reported COVID infection in the sewershed. Thus, they established that coronavirus in the wastewater can be an early warning of COVID 19 in the population.

    There are also currently several efforts to analyze levels of coronavirus in wastewater, and then to correlate those levels to an estimated number of affected people in the service area. Wastewater is a different and more complex matrix that those normally used in virology labs and is analytically challenging. Additionally there is an unknown distribution of the viral pieces between liquid and solid in the wastewater. Known levels of quantification are not yet known, but would have to be low enough to be able to compensate for the dilution of the virus in the wastewater in order to be useful. Already a researcher at Arizona State University (ASU) claims to be able to detect one affected individual in a population of 2 million. Others estimate 1-3 cases per 100,000 people. Additional problems on the analytical side are getting representative samples, developing rigorous QA/QC protocols, unknown matrix effects, and unknown fate and transport of coronavirus.

    Once detected in wastewater, there are additional formidable challenges of correlating the level of coronavirus in the wastewater to the level of COVID infection in the population. This requires knowledge of the population, flow, temperature, time in the sewer, industrial/residential discharge ratios, the fecal shedding rate per person, and many other factors. It will apparently also require knowledge of the average size of human poop. (No need to set up a study for this though. A professor at MIT has already determined this. It is 200 grams.)

    Despite the challenges, the promise of WBE/ES - that wastewater could give us both an early warning of, and an accurate measure of COVID in the population – is enticing. It could detect COVID 19 in a population before there have been any confirmed cases. It could indicate when a second or third wave is beginning. It would be faster than individual testing. It would include asymptomatic carriers and would be more representative of the spread of the disease than the current biased numbers that are low since they are hindered by testing availability. It would be specific to each sewershed, so response measures could better meet specific needs. It could be scalable; from the entire service area of a large WRRF down to a sewer from a single neighborhood, school, or assisted living facility. Testing would be cheap, the sample abundantly available.

    The study of analytes in wastewater as they relate to current issues in the service population is not new. Illicit drugs, malaria, salmonella, other viruses, etc. have all been looked at in wastewater. Each case provides its own challenges, but they all confirm the interesting hidden value of wastewater, and its important relationship to its service area. And in this current crisis, it is another reminder of the important work that everyone in the water field does!

    Please find references below. I also used some information from the Closing Ceremony of the WRF Virtual International Water Research Summit on Environmental Surveillance of Indicators of COVID 19 in Sewersheds, April 30, 2020. Please let me know if you would like more information, or if you have an interesting addition!

    Rich MacAlpine is a Laboratory Supervisor at Metro Wastewater Reclamation District. 





    Arizona State University. "Novel coronavirus detected, monitored in wastewater." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases

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