An update to Cherokee Metropolitan District's wastewater treatment plant should solve a 10-year-old problem dating back to the construction of the plant.
Cherokee updates on upgrading wastewater treatment facility
By Pete Gawda
The problem involves the total dissolved salts (TDS) in the treated effluent that Cherokee is discharging into groundwater. TDS are salts found naturally occurring in groundwater and surface water, and added through household and commercial uses. They include calcium, sodium, sulfate, magnesium, chloride and potassium.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, TDS in drinking water is not health threatening. However, higher levels of TDS could cause the water to appear cloudy or taste or smell bad.
The problem goes back several years to the design of the current plant, which is located in the southern part of the county on Drennan Road, east of Falcon Highway. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has a process whereby the Water Quality Control Division provides wastewater treatment permittees with preliminary effluent limits, a kind of permit review to help guide them through the engineering and site application process for any new treatment facilities. Mary Ann Nason of the CDPHE said these PELs (preliminary effluent limits) do not mirror what the eventual final discharge permit requires. In Cherokee's case, Nason said there was a “mistake” and the PELs issued in 2008 did not include a limit for TDS.
Nason said the CDPHE informs applicants early in the process that the final permit for effluent limitations might be different from the PELs.
Construction on the Cherokee plant began in 2008, shortly after PELs were issued and preliminary site and design plans were approved. When the final permit was issued in 2010, the plant was almost operational. The final permit did require TDS limits, which were lower than the level of TDS the plant was producing. The higher TDS standards are based on agricultural concerns. It seems some crops such as dry beans, turnips, onions and sod grass require lower TDS levels.
“If we dumped into a stream, we would be fine,” said Kent Hoadley, manager of Cherokee's wastewater treatment plant. There are no TDS limits on treated wastewater being dumped into surface water as the city of Colorado Springs does.
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Wearing masks to ward off COVID-19 has generated even more division in a country already carved up by politics and ideologies.
To wear it, or not — the mask
By Leslie Sheley
The Centers for Disease Control claims that a cloth-face covering might not protect the person wearing it, but it could prevent a person from spreading the virus to others. According to the CDC website, COVID-19 is mainly spread from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when infected people cough, sneeze, talk or raise their voices (e.g., shouting, chanting or singing).
The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby, or they could be inhaled into the lungs. The website states that recent studies show that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms (asymptomatic) and even those who eventually develop symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.
According to the Colorado.gov website, practicing social distancing isn’t necessarily about self-protection; it’s about protecting the most vulnerable people. “We all have a role to play, and we’re all in this together. We urge Coloradans to exercise personal responsibility to protect public health.”
Lauren Errico, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said, “Wearing a mask doesn’t just protect the person wearing it — it protects others. We are in the midst of a pandemic, and we have a social responsibility to make common sense choices that protect our families, our friends and our neighbors.”
However, some people have said that mandating masks is a violation of their rights as a citizen. But the government has legal backing to declare a mandate to wear a mask. In the case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), the Court upheld the authority of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws. The Court's decision made clear that individual liberty is not absolute and is subject to the police power of the state. An article posted on the website of the law firm Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (faegredrinker.com) stated, “COVID-19 has disrupted all industries and individuals on an unprecedented level and has left states and local governments scrambling to implement the guidelines and other measures to contain its spread. But with most governmental action, such orders and activities can and indeed do infringe on fundamental rights.”
The American Bar Association stated that under the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment and U.S. Supreme Court decisions made over nearly 200 years, state governments have the primary authority to control the spread of dangerous diseases within their jurisdictions. The 10th Amendment, which gives states powers nonspecific to the federal government, allows states the authority to take public health emergency actions, such as setting quarantines and business restrictions.
In an article written by Al Tompkins, senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute, he said, “As a reminder of the meaning of the 10th Amendment, ‘Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’” States also retain significant emergency powers to regulate public safety and health through their individual state constitutions and legal precedents, dating back to the early 1800s. “If reasoning alone was enough to convince people to care for themselves and others, then the experts could post the evidence that masks reduce the transmission of the virus and that would be enough,” Tomkins said. “But research on seat belt use and childhood vaccinations, for example, shows that when governments make safety mandatory, people pay more attention. And when governments widen the list of exemptions, people take advantage of those exemptions.”
What about people who cannot wear masks because of a disability or medical reason?
According to the Southeast American Disabilities Act Center website, if a person with a disability is unable to wear a face mask, state and local government agencies and private businesses must consider reasonable modifications to a face mask policy. This directive does not include individuals without disabilities; they are not protected under the ADA. The website gives examples of people with a disability who might not be able to wear a face mask:
- Individuals with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other respiratory disabilities because of impaired breathing. The CDC also states anyone who has trouble breathing should not wear a face mask.
- People with post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety or claustrophobia could feel afraid or terrified when wearing a face mask.
- Some people with autism are sensitive to touch and texture. Covering the nose and mouth with fabric can cause sensory overload, feelings of panic and extreme anxiety.
- A person who has cerebral palsy might have difficulty moving the small muscles in the hands, wrists or fingers. Because of their limited mobility, they may not be able to tie the strings or put the elastic loops of a face mask over the ears, without assistance.
- People who use mouth control devices such as a sip and puff to operate a wheelchair or assistive technology or those who use their mouth or tongue to use assistive ventilators will be unable to wear a mask.
Emily Shuman, Deputy Director for the Rocky Mountain American Disability Act Center, encouraged businesses or people with disabilities to call the center for further clarification on mask wearing. Shuman said they inform individuals of their rights and help them interpret the law and educate their employer. They also work with businesses to discuss modifications and their rights as the employer.
Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide executive order for Colorado as of July 17, which is in effect for 30 days or longer. The order “requires all people in Colorado over 10 years of age to wear a face covering over their noses and mouths when entering or moving within any public indoor space and while using or waiting to use public transportation or transportation services. People do not have to wear a mask if they are hearing-impaired or communicating with someone who is hearing impaired or otherwise disabled; seated at a food service establishment; exercising alone or with others from the individual’s household, and a face covering would interfere with the activity; receiving a personal service where the temporary removal of the face-covering is necessary to perform the service; entering a business or receiving services and are asked to temporarily remove a face covering for identification purposes; are actively engaged in a public safety role such as law enforcement, firefighters or emergency medical personnel; officiating at a religious service or giving a speech for broadcast or an audience.”
Polis is among the governors who adamantly believe that masks can help thwart the coronavirus. As he said at a press conference on July 9, “Wear a mask, wear a damn mask.”