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Old 07-17-2008, 07:30 AM
 
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i currently live in Ohio and looking at moving to CO. i have a question on the quality of water in the lakes, rivers, streams, etc. I love water activities (which i did a lot of living in AZ) but have not done much of it here in OH in the 13 years i've lived here. the reason is that the water quality here is not good under any circumstance. the water is always chocolate milk brown. women of child-bearing age are recommended only like 1-2 servings of fish from OH waters a year. its just not good. how's the quality of water in CO? particularly in the fort collins area
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Old 07-17-2008, 08:57 AM
 
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First, there are relatively few "lakes" in Colorado--what is in Colorado is mostly man-made reservoirs. That might not seem significant, but reservoirs are generally managed to store winter runoff for use in the summer. Therefore, the water levels can fluctuate dramatically. They aren't always the pretty picture in the Chamber of Commerce brochure--which are usually taken when the reservoirs are full.

Stream water quality in Colorado varies. It is generally pretty clean in the high country--though some streams still struggle with heavy metal contamination--either from natural sources (the Alamosa River west of La Jara is a good example of this), or as a legacy from old mining operations. Rivers in lower elevations frequently have contamination from farm and lawn pesticides, as well as sometimes serious alkali contamination. Lakes/reservoirs with alkali contamination frequently also have high selenium levels (selenium occurs naturally in alkaline soils) and eating fish caught out of those bodies of water is not recommended.

Because of giardia, no stream water in Colorado should be considered safe for drinking without treatment. Giardia is common just about everywhere in Colorado water--even in the most pristine-seeming high country mountain streams. Anyone who has had one will tell you that a giardia infection is a miserable experience.

I would say the water quality around Fort Collins is OK--though the areas downstream from the foothills all the way onto the plains are definitely subject to pesticide and other contamination from the urban sprawl and agricultural operations in the area.
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Old 07-17-2008, 01:18 PM
 
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Wink Relative purity

Surely a lot better. In general I wouldn't hesitate to bathe or drink from lakes or streams in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Certain caveats, however. Some old mines still pollute downstream water with heavy metals. Certain areas and septic systems might be suspect. In that just use common sense; if the water appears clear enough it probably is in the mountains.

Start someplace such as the Alpine Visitors Center high up in Rocky Mountain National Park. The small streams issuing from the latent snow fields are crystal clear. The more prudent wouldn't even drink from these waters for fear of some parasite or another. Those less susceptible will, and can attest that the water is divine. Surely the sweetest and best you will ever taste. Then work your way down through the lakes and larger rivers. By the time you reach the plains of the Front Range you should have a much better appreciation of how the water quality changes and what you would, or not, consider acceptable.
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Old 07-17-2008, 01:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
Surely a lot better. In general I wouldn't hesitate to bathe or drink from lakes or streams in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
I used to drink from clear mountain streams frequently. I wouldn't do it now--giardia is just too common. See here: Giardia Fact Sheet

I have been fortunate and have never (so far as I know) gotten a giardia infection. I do think susceptibility to it varies among individuals. Beavers are now a prime carrier of giardia, and few mountain streams do not have beaver dams along their course somewhere. Domestic sheep can also be carriers, and they are common summertime residents of many high country areas.

The only consolation about giardia for the typical "pilgrim" tourist visiting Colorado is that giaridia infections take up to two weeks to develop after one ingests the little critters, so the feckless tourist usually gets sick as a dog AFTER their vacation is over and they are back home. A little "reminder" of their trip, I guess . . .
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Old 07-17-2008, 03:01 PM
 
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Wink in water

I'm not a doctor, but . . .

I routinely drink from mountain streams. Only yesterday, in fact. Probably today as well. But that might be part of the equation, I always have, and have often wondered if in time one may build up a certain immunity. Have never suffered any ill effects. Of course if I end up sick as a dog, I'll have to get back to you when able.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this to anyone else, simply because there is always the risk (although, do you know what comes from your faucet?) and in such things someone might get sick from no more than the notion that they surely will. So to each their own. But I wouldn't dissuade them either.

For if you find just the right stream the water is verily the nectar of the Gods.
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Old 07-17-2008, 04:52 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 27,647,758 times
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Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
I'm not a doctor, but . . .

I routinely drink from mountain streams. Only yesterday, in fact. Probably today as well. But that might be part of the equation, I always have, and have often wondered if in time one may build up a certain immunity. Have never suffered any ill effects. Of course if I end up sick as a dog, I'll have to get back to you when able.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this to anyone else, simply because there is always the risk (although, do you know what comes from your faucet?) and in such things someone might get sick from no more than the notion that they surely will. So to each their own. But I wouldn't dissuade them either.

For if you find just the right stream the water is verily the nectar of the Gods.
I had a friend who grew up in the 60's in southwest Colorado. He would drink from any stream that was halfway clear. He said that growing up drinking what passed for "pure" water in his town water system (where they would regularly find dead mice, rats, birds, etc. in the city water tank) made him immune to just about anything. That went all well and good until he married a cute little city girl from back East, and she emulated his creek-water-guzzling ways on a camping trip. She got a hell of giardia infection, got severely dehydrated, and wound up in the hospital for a couple of days. She damned near divorced him, and he probably didn't "get any" for a couple of months. Ever since then, they've carried plenty of "city" water with them when they go camping.

PS--I do know of some pure mountain springs where one can drink right where the water comes out of the hill. I do that without reservation--and, yep, that is the BEST tasting water. I know too much about Colorado mountain stream water, though, to feel comfortable about drinking it untreated--I used to test and treat such water for domestic use from a pump station that pumped from one of Colorado's supposedly clean rivers. Clear it was, pure it wasn't.
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Old 07-18-2008, 07:31 AM
 
Location: Canon City, Colorado
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Where does all the water come from in Manitou? I mean those drinking spots throughout the streets? Is it treated first??
I've often wondered!
I have, on occasion, sipped some water from Yankee Basin on top of Ouray! I said sipped and, it was good! The only "sick" feeling I got was, wondering if I would make it back down the road!
It's really hard to resist all of that free flowing cold mountain water!
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Old 07-19-2008, 12:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by SheridanL View Post
Where does all the water come from in Manitou? I mean those drinking spots throughout the streets? Is it treated first??
I've often wondered!
I have, on occasion, sipped some water from Yankee Basin on top of Ouray! I said sipped and, it was good! The only "sick" feeling I got was, wondering if I would make it back down the road!
It's really hard to resist all of that free flowing cold mountain water!
I guess you didn't notice all of the old mining tailings lying around in places from old operations up there. Oh, I was told yesterday by a knowledgeable Ouray local that one of the mines very near to Yankee Boy appears to be "going active" again. Precious metal (and base metal) prices have reached the point that exploration is starting back up in some areas.
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:35 AM
 
Location: NOCO
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If you felt like enduring months of hellicious sickness, could you set up camp near some river and just build up an immunity to it?
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Old 07-23-2008, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Canon City, Colorado
1,331 posts, read 4,773,248 times
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ARGHHH!!! Good thing I've been gone for a year!HA! I won't be doing THAT again!!
It really is hard to resist though. It just looks so darn clear and, it's soo cold!


So, does anyone know where the water in Manitou comes from??
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