Ken Brenner: Clean Water Act anniversary


The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 became the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972 as concerns about water pollution led to significant amendments to the old legislation. The CWA established regulations for the discharge of wastewater and other pollutants into the waters of the United States. It also set water quality standards for surface water pollution and funded the construction of wastewater treatment plants.

Today, everyone living in the Yampa Valley values our abundance of clean water coming off the Continental Divide. Compared to many places, the Yampa River basin is an unspoiled gem of a water supply. What are we doing to ensure that future generations will enjoy the same pristine water supply? I am asking that we support a proposal to conduct a comprehensive, Yampa River Upper Basin groundwater baseline analysis.

A recent proposal to the Routt County Board of Commissioners by the U.S. Geological Survey would use almost 100 locations throughout the upper basin to provide a scientific study of current groundwater conditions. In the past few years, the USGS has worked with Routt County, Steamboat Springs, Mount Werner Water, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and the Morrison Creek Water and Sanitation District to assess the current surface water conditions in the upper basin and to establish an ongoing monitoring program. Thanks to all of those involved. Remember that the USGS is a scientific agency, not a regulatory agency. They produce high quality, reliable scientific data, not rules.

A comprehensive groundwater study would identify any current or pre-existing groundwater quality issues and give us a baseline to measure any changes that might occur in the future. It will protect all those future users of the valley’s natural resources and allow us to hold accountable those who might diminish the quality of our most valuable natural resource.

Past generations of ranchers, recreationists and the mining interests have respected the Yampa Valley waters. Join me in urging our Board of Commissioners to work with the USGS and form a coalition of those who want to add groundwater quality to the ongoing surface water quality baseline effort in the Yampa Valley.

Ken Brenner

Steamboat Springs


Harvey Lyon 4 years, 3 months ago

Good idea Ken, a baseline would allow measurement that would allow future control...if it can be measured it can be controlled.

However, who's to pay for it? I wouldn't feel comfortable yet again going to the federal trough. And since any future potential contaminates would likely effect ground water (as opposed to surface water as close to the source as City Water) the potentially big beneficieries of thsi study would be those that have well water. So we're likely looking at a property tax or "fee" or something else.

In all seriousness, I read an article in some paper about a town that has decided to bottle its water and sell it. Seems everyone thought the water tasted great and I personally think Steamboat's Water tastes even better than NY's which is truly great given their granite watershed in their mountains. Start up costs seemed reasonable. Transportation costs not until we produce enough to warrant a train car and stop. This might be a good idea for Steamboat Springs. A lot of the advertising about "Rocky Mountain Water" has already been done by Coors. A nice bottle designed to fit on a bike with a nice picture of Mt Werner or Buff Pass and the Steamboat Springs might just bring in significant revenue. Bottled "designer water" is big business.


kathy foos 4 years, 3 months ago

That is really good news....I hope it happens,I have a well and it would be worth it to me to pay a fee for this program.


mark hartless 4 years, 3 months ago

A reasonable suggestion, no doubt.

However, A snapshot of a man walking does not tell whether he is walking forward or backwards. Any two points can form a straight line. Putting the third and subsequent points down in perfect alignment is what takes skill.

It will take several measurements over a period of time to tell the important story, NOT where the water quality IS, but which direction it is headed. If it is already headed down, a one-time test followed by just one additional test will indicate degradation. Blaming that degradation on any one thing (like energy production) without knowing the already established "trajectory" of the water quality will be poor "science".

Lest you think that approach can't fool fools, I refer you to "global warming" which had to be changed to "climate change" after such a trajectory became indisputable.


Harvey Lyon 4 years, 3 months ago

Hey Ken,

Just a thought. Why can't we just use our own Routt County water testing folks and call folks living on wells and ask permission to sample those wells? Lots of private wells in Routt County.


brian kofke 4 years, 3 months ago

How about we get the fluoride out of the water; it is industrial waste from a phosphate fertilizer company in Florida. Don't believe me? Look it up!


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