Problems We Found With Denver's Drinking Water
Emma Schultz, M.S. | Scientific Contributor
For our assessment of Denver tap water, we aggregated water quality test data from Denver Water and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze. We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, and look at upcoming regulatory changes. The water filters that we sell in Denver are optimized with these issues in mind.
Source Of Denver Drinking Water
Denver's drinking water is surface water-sourced, and originates from 4,000 square miles on both sides of the Continental Divide. Water sources include the South Platte River, its tributaries, streams feeding into Dillon Reservoir, and creeks and canals above the Fraser River. Five reservoirs in the mountains are used to store Denver's drinking water; water may be stored at Antero, Eleven Mile Canyon, Cheesman, Dillon, or Gross Reservoirs. Water is then transported to one of three treatment plants, the Moffat Treatment Plant, Marston Treatment Plant, or Foothills Treatment Plant, before being delivered to Denver customers.
Lead In Denver Drinking Water
Lead enters into consumer tap water through older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures fail (such as recently occurred in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water and can reach toxic levels. Recent analysis for lead in Denver found an average of 10 parts per billion, with 13 of the 356 samples exceeding the action level of 15 ppb in autumn of 2016. Both the EPA and CDC recognize that there is no such thing as a safe level of lead. In addition, federal regulations cannot possibly take into account levels measured at an individual tap.
Chromium 6 In Denver Drinking Water
Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. Denver's tap water recently averaged 60 parts per trillion for chromium 6, with upper monitored levels of 250 ppt. These levels are 3 and 12.5 times higher than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk.
Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Denver Drinking Water
DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants formed when chlorine-based disinfectants, which are routinely added to the water supply to protect it, combine with naturally-occurring organic matter. Although these chemicals are not fully regulated, the EPA has explicitly stated that they are linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. Denver’s tap water has recently had moderately low levels of DBPs, with a recent average of 44 parts per billion.
Use Of Chloramine In Denver Tap Water
While most cities use chlorine as their primary disinfectant, Denver's water is disinfected with chloramine, produced by mixing chlorine and ammonia. Chloramine is primarily responsible for what customers report as the “bad taste” of tap water, and unlike chlorine this taste will not fade if left in the fridge overnight. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t adequately remove chloramine, but the filters that Hydroviv builds for Denver use special filtration media that is purpose-built to remove chloramine as well.
Still Have Questions About Denver’s Tap Water?
Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each city’s water. The chemicals that we list above are what we consider to be “points of emphasis” so we can build the best water filter for Denver tap water, but all of our water filters provide broad protection against other contaminants commonly found in drinking water (e.g. VOCs, heavy metals [including lead], pharmaceuticals, solvents, pesticides, mercury).
If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Denver tap water, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through our live chat. We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.
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- Emma Schultz