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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What’s with those purple pipes?

What’s with those purple pipes?

Have you ever seen a pile of lavender-colored pipes on the side of a construction project? Or some purple sprinkler heads in a big park? Or maybe even a purple sign that says “Irrigated with Reclaimed Water, Do Not Drink”? These questions hint at the basic story of a vital piece of the city’s infrastructure, our reclaimed water system.

Reclaimed water is produced during the irrigation season (late March through early October) at the city’s treatment facility near 130th Avenue and Huron Street. City staff take highly-treated runoff from the Big Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility and further cleans the water before distributing it in purple pipes to over 130 different sites/customers in the city. These customers use reclaimed water to irrigate large turf areas such as parks, schools, landscaping and golf courses.

Serving large irrigation customers with reclaimed water means the city doesn’t have to supply them with high-quality drinking water, saving that precious resource for the health and safety of residents and businesses. The city’s reclaimed system has also saved residents millions of dollars that would have been spent to purchase additional drinking water supplies to serve these large turf area customers.

The city’s use of reclaimed water is highly regulated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Rules are in place to ensure the reclaimed water meets water quality guidelines and is safe for human contact.

Reclaimed water meets “swim beach” standards, which means it’s OK to run through a purple-colored sprinkler. Bacteria levels in reclaimed water are less than what is regularly found in local creeks, but it’s still best to avoid contact if possible. Of course most reclaimed water irrigation happens between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Fun Facts About Purple Pipes

  • All across the nation, purple is the color of pipes used to distribute non-drinking water.
  • Westminster has the largest reclaimed water system by number of customers (133) in all of Colorado.
  • The city provides over 1,800 acre feet of reclaimed water each year to customers, an amount that would cover all of City Park nearly 10 feet deep.
  • The reclaimed system has over 26 miles of pipeline.

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