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Yampa’s water is top-notch

When the town of Yampa’s water won the Best Tasting Water in Colorado Award in February, Eric Berry knew it was destined for great things.

The 2004 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report was released this week, and Yampa’s results once again set it apart.

“I’m very happy with this year’s report,” said Berry, superintendent of the Yampa Public Works Department.

Berry said Yampa is lucky to be one of the first towns to draw water from the Yampa River because it is less contaminated. Yampa’s water comes from ground water from the Yampa River Alluvium.

After the South Routt town’s water won the Best in Colorado award, it made an April trip to Washington, D.C., for the national water-testing competition and placed in the top five for best-tasting water.

“Our water is just better,” Berry said with a laugh.

The annual report is a testament to the town’s great-tasting water.

There were no violations in the report, and Berry said everything in the water and water-testing is under control.

In the late 1990s, Yampa experienced problems with excess amounts of copper and lead traces in its water and was in violation of allowable amounts of the two contaminants.

After the traces were detected, Berry began to look at buildings built within the past 20 years. He discovered the copper was coming from the inside of the pipes in the newer buildings.

Since then, 10 sites have been designated for annual copper and lead testing — nine residential sites and Town Hall.

To prevent copper from coming off the pipes, caustic soda, or lye, is added to the water to form a protective pipe coating that prevents corrosion.

“It’s taken about six years, but the corrosion is totally under control,” Berry said.

The annual report is based on the results of contaminant tests on monthly and annual water samples. The water is tested daily for temperature, pH levels and chlorine content. Berry and his assistant, Greg Samuelson, took most of the samples.

The samples were analyzed at two labs, one in Lakewood and one in Steamboat Springs.

The water was tested for viruses, bacteria, pesticides, herbicides, mercury, nickel, fluoride, copper, lead, radon, radium and other contaminants.

All the contaminants for which the water was tested were equal to or well below state allowances.

Berry said that as water travels over land or through the ground, it naturally dissolves minerals and other materials that may contaminate water.

The only things added to the town’s water is the lye that prevents copper corrosion and chlorine that is used to kill harmful microorganisms.

The state requires that towns provide reports about the condition and quality of water to its residents. Berry is glad to let his customers know what is — and isn’t — in their drinking water.

“It’s important for the community to know that you are taking care of the water and for the public to have this kind of information,” he said.