Denver Direct: Blackwater Near You – Part 1

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Blackwater Near You – Part 1

(Headquarters at 64th and York. This is a secure facility, guarded by Homeland Security, and no photographs are allowed.)


The Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) is a rich source for original documents kept by governmental agencies. It’s very easy to use; email or write to the agency and they then have three days to respond and up to 10 days to schedule you for an examination of the records you request. Be sure to ask for a list of the documents they are not going to let you see, with details about what and why.

Show up for the appointment and they will likely sit you down in a room with the documents and a person to watch you. Take your time, go through the documents, and select those you want copied. They make the copies and charge you 25 cents for each page. They bring you the copies, you pay, thank them and leave. (Note: The Mayor’s Office, at which I have a pending CORA, has mentioned charging for “research time”.)

Thus it was that I obtained, in my effort to document exactly what is filling Grasmere Lake in Washington Park and Ferril Lake in City Park and irrigating the fields in those and various other parks, a complete copy of the current Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit for the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site by the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District. That’s quite a mouthful. Let them explain (from their website at

The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District is the wastewater treatment authority for most of metro Denver. It was formed by the Colorado state legislature in 1961 to provide wastewater transmission and treatment services to member municipalities and special connectors in compliance with federal, state, and local laws.

The Metro District serves about 1.5 million people in a 380-square mile service area that includes Denver, Arvada, Aurora, Lakewood, Thornton, Westminster, and more than 45 sanitation and water and sanitation districts.

The Metro District treats about 130 million gallons of wastewater a day and discharges the treated water into the South Platte River where it makes up nearly 90 percent of the River for nine months of the year.

So if you are an industrial entity, and you have some stuff you’d like to flush down the drain into the sewer system, you shouldn’t just flush it in the dark of night. Instead, you should apply for and receive an Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit (I understand that over 200 such Permits have been issued). The Lowry Landfill Superfund Site (LLSS) is such an entity, and they have a lot of “stuff” they want to flush. Thus, they have obtained the Permit and I have obtained a copy of it.

In this series I intend to analyze this Permit and outline the details of exactly what is going into our lakes and onto our parks. I hope you’ll stick with me as this is a complex story, but your health and welfare may very well hinge on the details. Remember the Dead Ducks.