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State says Apple Tree Park water quality improved after concerns raised in the spring

Resident Janelle Vega shows the light brown discoloration and sediment that settled in the bottom of a jug containing water that was taken from the tap of her Apple Tree home in March 2022.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Operators of the Apple Tree mobile home park near New Castle appear to be making progress in addressing discoloration in the neighborhood’s domestic water supply that prompted resident complaints in the spring, state health department officials said earlier this month.

Inspectors from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment paid a “technical assistance” visit to the park in May, after concerns about water quality were raised before the Garfield County commissioners in late March.

Ron Falco, manager for the department’s Safe Drinking Water Program, indicated in a Sept. 1 letter to county health officials and other interested parties that the situation, which related to high iron levels in the water, has improved.



“The supplier is currently in compliance with the primary drinking water regulations, and the treatment and distribution system are believed to be in good working order,” Falco wrote.

Iron discoloration is not a primary public-health concern and is not regulated by the state, he said.



But, the state did offer some suggestions to improve the water’s appearance. 

“Water quality issues appear to be primarily aesthetic issues associated with iron in its raw water source,” Falco wrote in the letter, which was shared with the county commissioners Monday by Ted White, environmental health specialist for the county.

“Installation of iron removal/filtration was discussed and encouraged during the site visit,” Falco said. 

In addition, operators for park owners Investment Property Group (IPG) indicated they would increase flushing of the water system to once a quarter, instead of annually, and would provide more guidance to residents about how to flush water in their homes to avoid iron-sediment buildup.

“Routine flushing of distribution lines reduces the amount of stagnant water in the lines, prevents the accumulation of sediment and prevents discoloration caused by iron and other metals,” Falco acknowledged.

Commissioners, at Monday’s meeting, noted that individual water meters have recently been installed at the park and expressed concerns about residents being charged individually during the flushing operations.

“Hopefully, they can work out the metering issue when they flush the system,” Commission Chairman John Martin said.

Falco said the park operators were also encouraged to sample for manganese in the system, after elevated levels were noted in the spring samples. 

Those levels had improved when a July sample was taken; however, that may have been due to increased precipitation that month, he wrote.

“Overall, this information indicates that the tap water in the community is below the health-advisory level for manganese on a routine basis,” Falco advised. “However, additional monitoring for manganese will be used to evaluate this going forward.

Elevated levels of manganese can have an effect on prenatal and early childhood learning and behavior, according to the EPA. The EPA has a manganese advisory level of 0.30 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The Apple Tree reading from the spring sampling was 0.224 mg/L in one well and 0.230 mg/L in the other. The July reading was 0.049 mg/L.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.


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