Thirst-Quenching, Life-Giving, Award-Winning
In 2017, at the American Water Works Association’s 13th annual “Best of the Best” Water Taste Test held in Philadelphia, a sample of Greeley’s tap water was not only named the best-tasting in all of North America, it also won the People’s Choice award. It was the first time a city claimed both titles in a single year. And it’s the first time Greeley entered the contest.
So What’s The City’s Secret?
“A lot of it comes down to decisions made 20, 50, even 100 years ago,” says John Thornhill, water resources operations manager for Greeley Water and Sewer.
From the choice to locate the first treatment plant at the mouth of the Poudre River Canyon near the source of that great-tasting water to the building of a 36-mile gravity-fed transmission line to Greeley, water department employees have always worked decades ahead of current demand. It’s how the city has been able to meet the needs of a growing population.
“That’s how we have to think,” says Thornhill, “in order to properly manage this precious resource. It just can’t be done in one or two years.” What’s ironic, he says, is that most of those employees won’t be around in 50 years to see the fruits of their labor. “This award belongs to those earlier generations as much as it belongs to us.”
What’s Behind the Faucet
So where’s that delicious water come from? Probably not where you’d think.
It starts as snowfall in the Rocky Mountains and is captured during the spring runoff
in six high-mountain reservoirs owned by the city. From there it goes to one of two treatment plants before traveling to Greeley over 141 miles of transmission lines. Three covered reservoirs and an elevated tank hold the water on the outskirts of town. To get to homes and businesses, it’s piped through 457 miles of distribution lines.
“Our guys take their jobs very seriously,” says Thornhill. “They’re really proud of their work. And they should be.”