Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Entering the Water World

I am a few weeks into my internship now and finally getting to the blogging aspect. It's been a busy semester already! I am interning with the Bear Creek Land Owners Association for whom my dad, Richard Basinger, is the water operator and will be my internship supervisor. The area is about three hours South and slightly East of Gunnison in the beautiful Conejos Canyon down near the Colorado New Mexico Border. As an environmental studies student with a water emphasis I have always been fascinated with all aspects of water. Whether it is the ecological, political, physical, distributional, or recreational aspect I can never learn enough!. During my internship, I plan to travel down to Bear Creek about once every two weeks and learn all the necessary skills required of a water operator. Also, in the time that I am not down in the canyon, I will be updating system operating procedures, evaluating necessary upcoming changes to the system to address recommendations by the Colorado Department of Public Health, and studying for the class D water operator certification exam.

I made the trip down for the first time about two weeks ago. It was quite the exciting drive down as I drove through some of the thickest fog I've ever been in and almost hit an elk. But I made it safely and it is always a beautiful drive down to the area. When I made it down, Rich explained to me what exactly he does (or more like what exactly I will be doing) and gave me a general overview of the water system. It is a community public water system. The operator is required to have a Class C water treatment certification as well as a Class D distribution certification (a sewage treatment cert. is not required because the cabins that are served have individual septic systems). The system currently serves 87 households and distributes approximately 2 million gallons of finished water per year. There are two wells. The first well is located right by the Conejos River and is designated as a ground water under direct influence of surface water sight. This well pumps around 35-60 gal/minute. The other is a groundwater well which is up the hill a ways from the lower well. This well is drilled straight into the bedrock but was not drilled in a very good place and only pumps 1 gal/minute. Water from both wells is pumped into two 5,000 gallon storage tanks which distribute the water to the households using gravity. Two insure that the water is safe to drink two chemicals are added to it as soon as it comes out of the well. Sodium Chloride (a liquid) is added as a disinfectant and a solution called SeaQuest (NaBSHEPZBO85 also a liquid) which is used for pipe corrosion control.

Well, That is a basic overview of what I will be doing throughout the course of the semester. I am looking forward to developing the skills I will need for my upcoming career in the water field and thanks to Rich Basinger, Jeff Sellen, WSCU, and the Bear Creek Land Owners Association for this opportunity!

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