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Damage from Waldo Canyon fire could impact water quality

By Jaclyn Rostie, Reporter, j.rostie@krdo.com
Published On: Apr 04 2013 07:44:07 PM CDT

Springs utilities working with forest service to mitigate damage

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Nearly a half million Colorado Springs residents depend on the city's water supply.  But lasting damage from the Waldo Canyon Fire could impact its drinking quality.

"The fear with a burned area is sediment getting into creeks and reservoirs," said Chris Strebig, USDA Forest Service.

That sediment, Strebig said can clog city drains and needs to be filtered and treated before people drink the water.

Gary Bostrom, chief water services officer for Colorado Springs Utilities, said the problems have already started.  "There was the fire, then flooding and that flooding did significant damage to our pipeline system coming out of Rampart Reservoir," said Bostrom.

So Colorado Springs will be spending millions on prevention.  Its teamed up with the U.S. Forest Service to restore burned areas, minimize erosion and reduce the wildfire risk.  The work includes building man-made dams and planting new vegetation.

Bostrom said the hope is to save money later. The Forest Service will be complete on-the-ground project planning and treatment in areas.

"Our ongoing relationship with the Forest Service will help us channel customer-rate dollars in the most efficient way possible to protect our most vital resource and the forest that surrounds it," said Bostrom.

The Forest Service has similar partnerships to protect water supplies and improve water quality with Pueblo Water, Northern Water, Denver Water and Aurora Water.

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