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Most Falcon residents who live in the suburban developments along and north of Woodmen Road get their water from metropolitan districts. While Colorado Springs Utilities serves more than 655,000 customers within city limits, the Falcon metro districts serve much smaller communities. Bringing fresh clean water to planned communities is still a big job, no matter how small the district.Meridian Service Metropolitan District employs a staff of six to maintain the water, sewer and parks. Meridian Ranch has about 1,300 homes, with a planned build-out of 4,800 single-family-equivalent users. The latter users determine how water districts calculate residential, commercial and landscaping needs, said Tim Hunker, district manager.Meridian Ranch fresh water comes from groundwater wells that the developer and district have drilled. ìWe have 11 wells on site and six wells off site,î Hunker said. ìThe offsite wells include alluvial, Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers. The onsite wells are in the Denver and the other aquifers. We have some Dawson (aquifer); we just don’t have that Dawson water piped into the treatment plant. We use that water for construction and livestock water.î The district allows horses to graze on the unfinished areas of the property.Some of the water from the alluvial wells is swapped with Cherokee Metropolitan District, which serves Cimarron Hills in Colorado Springs. Since Meridian’s alluvial water is legally allowed to be exported out of the area, it is more valuable than water from some of the other sources. ìCherokee has water that is only in-basin use, so we swap that water out with our out-of-basin water, and we gain about one and a half times the water we give them,î Hunker said.About 18.1 miles of raw water line bring water from the 17 wells to the filtration and pump station at the end of Rex Road. The well heads located within Meridian Ranch are buried. ìWe do that for aesthetics more than security,î Hunker said. And 26.1 miles of potable water line carry fresh water from the filtration plant to the tanks at the north end of the development, and then out to residents.Well water is generally safe to drink. However, the district filters out certain minerals, mixes the water between the different aquifer sources and adds chlorine before releasing it to the system. ìIron and manganese is what we’re removing,î Hunker said. ìThere’s not a safety limit per se for those; we do it for aesthetics. We don’t want residents to get yellow water. Once you add chlorine to it, those minerals will settle out and get sort of a beige yellow. We also don’t want residents or us to waste water by trying to flush it out.îThe groundwater contains naturally occurring fluoride at about one part per million. The district does not add any additional fluoride or other chemicals to the water besides chlorine, which is needed to deal with algae and other downstream contaminants, Hunker said.In the April edition of The New Falcon Herald, the article ìWater salinity, sodium harming farms and fairwaysî described the impacts of high sodium, sulfur and other minerals in area groundwater. The varying sodium and sulfur content of the aquifers the district uses allows staff to mix the water sources to reduce the amount noticeable to residents. ìWe get a lot of sulfur from the Laramie-Fox Hills wells, but we’re able to mix it so you rarely notice it,î Hunker said. ìSome of that will also off-gas when it gets into the tanks.îThe large water storage tanks on the north end of the property store water for peak periods and allow gravity to pressurize the system. ìWe have two tanks there, one is 1.6 million gallon and the other is 2.5 million gallons,î Hunker said. ìWe have room for one more, but we don’t need it right now. But the space is there and ready for the future.îThe tank farm is not high enough above some of the homes, which led to the district separating the distribution system into two zones. One is gravity fed, the other pump fed. The homes near the same level of the tanks get their pressure from pumps located at the filtration plant. ìThe upper zone would only have about 30 PSI (pounds per square inch) if we didn’t boost the pressure to a more consistent level with everyone else,î Hunker said. ìAt the lower end of the district, just with gravity; by the time we hit the bottom we’re pushing 120-130 PSI.îThe offices at the filtration station have sophisticated computer monitoring systems to control all the parts of the system, including irrigation for district common areas. ìAll of the system is controlled from these systems,î Hunker said. ìWe have 32 clocks that can make sure that if one part of the development gets rain, that part will shut off but the rest still gets watered.îThe district’s supervisory control and data acquisition system controls the wells and tanks. ìWhen the tank farm hits a certain level, it will automatically turn on certain wells,î Hunker said. ìWe can program it to set which wells come on when the tank level drops. And the nice thing is we can set level controls within the wells’ water column, so if the aquifer starts dropping down, we can slow that pump down to maintain water above the pump until it can recover.îTechnology also helps the district collect water usage data from residents without traditional meter readers walking the neighborhood. ìWe have a truck with a radio computer signal that wakes up the meter units in the basements,î Hunker said. ìThe unit will then send back the info as the truck is just driving by. But the meter is not broadcasting otherwise. It will only respond to a query from our equipment.îThe ongoing costs of the system are paid through district customer water bills. The initial well drilling, filtration system and distribution was paid for by GTL, the developer of Meridian Ranch. ìWhat a lot of people don’t realize is before you can put in even your very first home in a development like this, you have to put in all your wells, all your pipes, everything,î said Doug Woods, project manager. GTL purchased the original water rights and paid for the well drilling. Future drilling, repairs or other increased needs will come from the district’s coffers, Hunker said.Security is an important consideration for the water districts as it is for any public utility. ìWe have alarms on the hatches, entry alarms and video monitoring at the treatment facility,î Hunker said. The system monitoring computers is also mirrored at other locations and can alert staff about problems.Adequate long-term water supplies are important to the districts and developers. ìWe can pump at a 100-year supply per the state, but the county makes us prove a 300-year supply for what we build,î Hunker said. ìThe county doesn’t want to restrict growth, but they want to make sure growth is done smart.îHunker said Meridian Ranch residents are welcome to contact the district to get tours of their facilities to see firsthand where their water comes from. ìWe want people to understand they need to protect this precious resource,î Hunker said. ìWe want to help people to understand they don’t have to water like crazy to make the community look nice when they drive through.î

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