Water Reuse for the Arid West

Photo credit: WateReuse Colorado

Water Recycling for Climate Resilience (start time: 7:54) When you poured tap water into your coffee maker this morning, or flushed the toilet, you may not have been thinking about where that water came from, or where it flowed to next. Pegged to World Water Week, on this week’s How On Earth host Susan Moran interviews Austa Parker, PhD, an environmental engineer who is a consultant for the firm Brown and Caldwell on national water-reuse issues. She formerly worked for Denver Water and as an adjunct professor at CU Boulder. Our discussion focuses on direct potable reuse (DPR), the process of transforming treated wastewater, including human effluence, into drinking water. Climate change, intensifying droughts and population growth in the already parched U.S. West are pressuring states and cities to pursue DPR as a means of becoming more climate-resilient.
Resource links:
WateReuse Colorado
WateReuse Association (national)
Colorado’s regulations (passed in late 2022) on direct potable reuse

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Show Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
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Clean Water Act 50 years later

Photo from Creative Commons

Clean Water Act, Then and Now (start time: 3:38): Two weeks ago was the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.  The landmark law set out to clean up the nation’s lakes, rivers and streams, and to safeguard the water supply for humans throughout the country. While there’s been some progress since the act was signed in 1972, many view the law as a mixed bag, both nationally and here in Colorado.  By some estimates, at least half of the country’s rivers and streams do not meet the standard of the Clean Water Act. The legislation also faces new threats, including one from the U.S. Supreme Court. Host Susan Moran interviews two experts on the topic: John Flesher, a correspondent at the Associated Press; and Danny Katz is executive director of CoPIRG, which is part of the USPIRG network.
Colorado resources:
* CoPIRG new report on industrial polluters
* CoPIRG report Wasting Our Waterways
* State bill tackling lead in schools’ drinking water

Host & Producer: Susan Moran
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Shannon Young
Headline contributor: Benita Lee

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Protecting Pollinators // Testing Drinking Water

Photo credit: Douglas Mills
Photo credit: Douglas Mills

We offer two features on today’s show:
Protecting Pollinators (start time: 0:58): Hills, prairies and gardens are neon green and in full bloom. A pollinator’s paradise, at least it should be. Birds, bees, butterflies, beetles and other pollinators rely on the nectar from flowering plants. We humans rely on them; roughly one out of every three bites we take comes from food that would not exist if not for pollinators. National Pollinator Week is June 19 – 25.  It will celebrate pollinators and promote how humans can help protect them.  Vicki Wojcik, research director at Pollinator Partnership, an organization that focuses on conservation, scientific research and education aimed at preserving pollinators, talks with host Susan Moran. Resources: Bee Safe Boulder (People and Pollinators Action Network), Colorado State Beekeeper Association, and Butterfly Pavilion.

drinking waterTesting Drinking Water (start time: 14:00): Two years ago Flint, Mich., turned the issue of lead in drinking water from a little known, or distant-past, hazard into a national scandal. Human error and coverups resulted in many Flint homes showing staggeringly high levels of lead in their drinking water. What happened in Flint has afflicted other cities. Water districts, which are required to monitor a sampling of homes in their districts for lead in drinking water, are stepping up efforts to prevent more Flints from happening. Here in Colorado, water districts use soda ash and other chemicals to keep their water from being overly corrosive, which was the problem in Flint. How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender interviews Michael Cook, district manager of the Little Thompson Water District at the Carter Lake Water Filtration Plant near Loveland. The plant was recently out of compliance, meaning that samples from water district have shown higher levels of lead than what the state health department considers safe. Cook discusses what the district has done. (Boulder has its own water-filtration plant and has not been out of compliance at least in recent years. But all water districts must address similar concerns.)

Hosts: Maeve Conran, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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