Hardness Q&A

Answers to Hardness Questions from Customers

Is the water I’m getting safe?

The water served by the District is safe as it meets all current EPA drinking water standards. Hard water is not known to pose any health effects. Because of this, water hardness is not a limit set by the EPA. Although the presence of hardness causing minerals does not affect health, at high levels hardness can cause problems such as scaling on fixtures, film on glassware, etc.

The District tests for over 241 compounds on a regular basis totaling over 1,240 tests every month. State-certified operators and chemists collect and analyze samples throughout our water system – from production wells to customer taps. More information on the safety of the District’s water can be found in the Water Quality Report.   
Why does the District have hard water?

The District has hard water because of the source of its water supply. Most of the District’s water comes from shallow underground alluvial aquifers. As the District’s water travels through these “underground rivers” it comes into contact with natural deposits of calcium and magnesium. Water dissolves these minerals causing calcium and magnesium ions to be present. This District’s groundwater source is different than the softer surface water supplies of Denver and some other surrounding communities. 

Who is the South Adams County Water and Sanitation District? 

The South Adams County Water and Sanitation District is a special district (i.e. an independent Colorado local government entity) that was formed to provide water and wastewater services to what is now Commerce City and surrounding areas. It was formed in 1951 and is governed by a customer-elected five-member Board of Directors.

How is the District funded? 

The District is a nonprofit governmental entity that gets a majority of the money needed to fund operations from rates and fees. Customer’s bills are based on the cost to treat and deliver water and their amount of usage. These costs include things such as water pumping, treatment, laboratory testing, and pipelines. The District collects a little over three mils of property tax which pays for approximately 7% of the District’s operating budget and accounts for around 2.5% of your total property tax. The District is currently in good financial health and undergoes a third-party audit every year.  
Is the District going to find and implement a solution for hardness?

The District understands that any solution to reduce hardness in the District’s water supplies would need to be District-wide and benefit all customers. The District’s Board of Directors had a consulting engineer investigate treatment alternatives for hardness in January 2016. The engineer determined that the cost to soften the water at the water treatment plant would be approximately $55 million and take 2-4 years to complete. This money would need to come from an estimated 33% increase in water rates or in property taxes. 

Because of the significant cost impacts of softening the water, the District believes that a public process should be implemented to better understand the desires of our customers.  This process may include public meetings, a public survey, the formation of a special committee, and possibly a ballot measure. District staff will be developing a process with the Board of Directors over the next few months, and as the process unfolds, we will keep the public informed.
Can the District provide information about home softening systems

Purchasing an in-home water softener can reduce the hardness of your water. As a governmental entity, the District can’t recommend a specific vendor or brand of equipment. The District’s website does provide some general topics to consider related to purchasing an in-home softening system. The page also has links and videos that customers interested in installing home softening systems may find helpful.