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Keystone Fire Could Affect Cheyenne Water Quality

Charlie Magee, Centennial Volunteer Fire Department
Charlie Magee, Centennial Volunteer Fire Department

A spokeswoman for the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities [BOPU] says the Keystone Fire, which is burning near Rob Roy Reservoir, could have some long-term impacts on Cheyenne’s water supply.

Dena Egenhoff says the fire is raging in the Horse and Douglas Creek water collection areas. Water from those areas is transported through large pipelines to Lake Owen, and from there to Crystal and Granite Reservoirs.

Those reservoirs, in turn, supply drinking water to Cheyenne.

Egenhoff says the problem with fires such as the Keystone Fire is that by destroying trees and other plants they can cause erosion. Erosion can damage dams, clog pipelines and shrink water storage capacity.

Egenhoff says the impact on Cheyenne water quality could include a smoky taste as well as the addition of plant nutrients that could increase algae and underwater plant growth issues.  But she says people should not worry about the safety of the drinking water supply because it is tested on a daily basis.

Potential impacts on tap water could include an unusual taste, some sediment and possibly some discoloration towards this fall or next spring. But Egenhoff says the BOPU has highly trained professionals and special equipment to deal with changes in water quality and assure the safety of the city water supply.

She says the fire could also increase the cost of supplying water to Cheyenne, although by how much is hard to say at this point.

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