Time: 45-60 minutes
Students will learn about
the three water systems (drinking, waste and stormwater), gain a historical
perspective of water uses, and discuss challenges and choices facing
us today. NOTE: This activity focuses on the treatment plants for Boulder;
if you live outside the city, you can find out where your drinking water
and waste water are treated.
It is important for people
to understand where their water comes from, the process it undergoes
before it arrives at the tap, and where it goes once we've used it.
Boulder receives drinking
water from three sources: Arapahoe Glacier and Silver Lake Reservoir
(40%), Barker Reservoir (40%) and the Colorado River(20%) via the Colorado-Big
Thompson Transbasin Diversion Project. Water fromArapahoe Glacier and
Barker Reservoir is piped to the Betasso Water Plant.Water from the
Colorado River is piped to Boulder Reservoir through the Boulder Feeder
Canal. It is treated at the 63rd Street Water Treatment Plant. The water
goes through a series of treatment steps including: coagulation, sedimentation,
filtration. It is then piped to our homes through an extensive distribution
Boulder's wastewater is collected
in sewer pipes and delivered to the 75th Street Wastewater Treatment
Plant. Here the used water undergoes extensive treatment including:
settling, filtering, solids contact, and chlorination/dechlorination
before it is discharged into Boulder Creek for users downstream.
The third set of water pipes
are those that collect stormwater runoff from streets, parking lots,
roofs and other surfaces and carries it to the nearest creek. Storm
drains are connected directly to creeks and ditches in Boulder. What
this means is that anything that gets picked up by stormwater such as
litter, fertilizer, oil, leaves, pet waste and more is discharged directly
to a creek. It is important that we work to keep our streets, yards
and parking lot clean in order to keep our creeks clean.
- Map of Boulder Creek Watershed
- Check out Boulder Water
- Copies of The Boulder
Water Story Student Video Worksheet
- Check out Water History
Water Story Activity- 13 minute video
1. Start this session by
watching Boulder's Water Story. This video lays out the Boulder water
supply system. It discusses the three major sources of drinking water
supply and reviews drinking water and wastewater treatment. It provides
a good overview of the water supply systemwhich will lend itself to
further discussions including: water quality, urban development,water
pollution, interconnection of humans and environment, and more.
2. After viewing the video,
you can transition into a discussion about the history of Boulder's
The Water History Trunk (a
collection of antique water artifacts) is available for check out from
the Water Resource Educator. For this activity, arrange artifacts on
a table for the students to browse through. After all students have
had the opportunity to review the items, pick one out and have a volunteer
from the class explain what it is and how/why it was used. Do this with
each of the items as time permits.
to Boulder's Water Story Quiz
1. What are the three sources
of Boulder's drinking water?
Arapaho Glacier (40%), Barker
Reservoir (40%) and the Colorado River via the Colorado-Big Thompson
Windy Gap Diversion Project (20%) which is delivered to Boulder Reservoir
through the Boulder Feeder Canal from Carter Lake.
2. What are the advantages/disadvantages
to piping our water from Silver Lake and Barker to the Betasso Drinking
Advantages: Water does not
evaporate out of the pipes, and it cannot be contaminated
Disadvantages: It is expensive
to build and maintain pipelines; pipelines are not beautiful like a
3. What are the advantages/disadvantages
to using Boulder Reservoir as a drinking water source and a place for
Advantages: it provides two
things-- water and fun-- from the same body of water.
can add pollutants to the water that make it more difficult to treat.
4. What is the average rainfall
for Boulder? (14-18 inches/yr.)
5. List several ways that
you conserve water.
6. We cannot make more water
for our use; all the water that is available to use is right here on
Earth. Knowing this, what types of actions should we take with regards
to water pollution, water quality, and conservation?
1. Have students do research
on the history of water in Boulder. Examples
- Historic water uses in
Boulder (mining, farming, etc).
- Ditches: Who owns them?
Who uses them? What are they for?
- Hydropower in Boulder
Much of this information
can be found through the BASIN website.
2. Visit Betasso Water Treatment
Plant or the 75th Street Wastewater Plant
- Storm drains
- City of Boulder Water
Resource Educator 413-7365
- City of Boulder Stormwater
Quality Office 413-7350
- City of Boulder Drinking
Water Program 413-7400
- City of Boulder Wastewater
Treatment Plant 413-7340
- WWW sites: http://csf.colorado.edu/bcwatershed
Phyllis Smith. A History
of the Waterworks of Boulder, CO. April 1986
The Boulder Water Story video
#4.3 Students know major
sources of water, its uses and importance, and its cyclic patterns of
movement through the environment.
#5 Students know ways that
science, technology, and human activity have an impact on the world
and its resources.
Return to the top
Return to WatershED Table of Contents