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Water quality concerns persist in Colorado City

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- Residents of this Pueblo County town continue to send videos and photos to KRDO, showing tap water that they say is smelly and discolored, and illustrating an issue that has persisted since at least 2016.


The town's metro district has struggled to address challenges with water quality, supply and treatment, and was previously cited by the state for violations -- but not fined.

Amy Rose

However, an official with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said that the district could soon be fined $1,000 per day if more progress isn't made.


"We prefer to work with communities and not be heavy-handed enforcers," said Ron Falco, state drinking water program manager. "But at this point, I think we're at the show-me stage of this."

Falco agrees with metro district manager James Eccher that one solution is to build a second facility to process water before it enters the existing treatment plant.


"That's probably going to cost us $10 million, along with improvements to the dam that are needed," he said. "We've already spent $5 million on other upgrades."

As Eccher explained, the quality of water from Lake Beckwith is worst during the summer when colder water from the bottom rises to the top, and promotes plant growth which clogs water filters.


Falco added that other organic substances and minerals in the lake affect water quality when the combine with chlorine in the treatment plant, and produce byproducts that affect color and smell.

Weather has also been a factor, with lightning and storms damaging the aging infrastructure.


Still, Eccher insists that the water is safe to drink -- although many skeptical residents use faucet filters or drink bottled water.


Another challenge is the limited funding that many small, rural districts struggle with; the district has raised rates previously but can't increase them enough to pay for all the needs.


Paul and Laura Muse were driving past the lake Wednesday when they saw Eccher being interviewed by KRDO, and stopped to ask him questions about the water situation.

"We moved here two-and-a-half years ago," they said. "We're satisfied with what the manager told us, if we can see something coming. We're satisfied if we see progress, like he says. But if we don't , then of course no one will be here."


Falco said that the state is helping the district apply for grants that would provide funding.

But time is running out.


"We want to actually see this (facility) design," he said. "We want to see that they're going to follow through, and get this in place and have a solution together, that will provide long-term compliance. I would say I'm optimistic in the sense that this is the right pathway, if they can follow through with that."

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.


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