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POW open house flooded with water issues

Protect Our Wells held its annual open house Aug. 25 at Woodmen Valley Chapel. The event featured displays and information from representatives of Cherokee Metropolitan District, Black Forest Land Use Committee, Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan Advisory Committee, Sunset Metropolitan District and Colorado Springs Utilities.”This is an attractive place to live and more people will come here,” said Kip Peterson, Cherokee’s general manager. “People want their little piece of the American dream, but we have to recognize that this area is high desert, and it’s becoming harder to pull water out.”Peterson said Cherokee is easing its water availability problems by building a recharge facility on Drennan Road, south of Falcon. The facility will use a combination of ultraviolet light, chemicals and sand filtration to recover drinking water from wastewater from the Meridian Ranch and Woodmen Hills developments.”It took five years to get the permits, and it’s the first of its kind in Colorado,” Peterson said.The district plans to start operating the recharge facility in March 2010.Sunset Metro District representative Sean Chambers provided information on his district’s plans to build a sewage treatment plant near the intersection of Judge Orr Road and Peyton Highway.Sunset’s facility will treat wastewater to irrigation standards. The treated water will be stored during winter months. During the summer months, it will be piped to developments plumbed with purple piping, such as the Santa Fe Springs development, where it will be used to water lawns and gardens, Chambers said. Purple is the color assigned to pipes that carry gray water.”Pristine drinking water should not be wasted on irrigation,” Chambers said.Colorado is expanding the legal use of gray water. “It used to be that gray water could only be used to water golf courses. The Colorado state health department approved purple piping in 2005, and they approved the storage of gray water for fire fighting,” Chambers said.Terry Stokk, vice chairman of the Black Forest Land Use Committee, talked about stresses on the Black Forest planning area, such as the county’s decision to move Sterling Ranch from the Black Forest planning area to the Falcon/Peyton planning area. The county did not consult with the Black Forest Land Use Committee on that change, Stokk said.He also expressed concern that the developer of Cathedral Pines is asking the county to approve 13 extra lots by swapping conservation easement trust land. If the 13 lots are approved, it will be a violation of the five-acre-minimum lot size requirement in the Black Forest planning area.Jan Hejtmanek, candidate for state representative for House District 20, attended the open house and expressed concern about how oil and gas drilling proposed in the Denver Basin area will affect water quality.”Drilling muds contain carcinogens that get pumped into the water, but drillers don’t have to disclose the exact chemical makeup of the muds they use,” Hejtmanek said. “So when water is contaminated, the drillers can’t be sued because it can’t be confirmed that the contaminants are the result of drilling.”Hydrogeologist Julia Murphy, POW’s consultant, said drilling muds contain uncommon, obscure chemicals. “Unless you know what to test for, you can’t test,” Murphy said.Murphy also said oil and gas drilling uses a lot of water. “When you compare how much water they use with residential use, the difference is dramatic,” Murphy said.Lynne Bliss answered questions about the Falcon/Peyton plan, which was accepted by the El Paso County Planning Commission on Aug. 5. She said she is looking for people who want to form a permanent committee to monitor enforcement of the Falcon/Peyton plan, much like the Black Forest Land Use Committee. To contact Bliss, send an e-mail to”I’m pleased with the turnout,” said Sandy Martin, POW’s president. “The people who came stayed and talked with our exhibitors for quite a long time,” she said.POW is a citizen-based, nonprofit group that advocates for the interests of individuals with private wells. For information on joining POW, see

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