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Facing water crisis, Colorado town turns to 'hard to treat' sources

Aurora, Colorado relied on runoff from melting mountain snow for its water supply. But what happens when winter doesn't hold up its end of the bargain?

Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.

Of the vast amounts of H20 on Earth, a fraction of a percentage point is drinkable. And those sources are under increasing strain, both from rising populations and climate change.

Just ask residents in Texas. Or southern California. Or Georgia.

Want to water those plants? Y'all just fugheddaboudit.

At least 36 U.S. states are expected to face water shortages in the near future, forcing many municipalities to take a more active approach in acquiring water.

While some approaches involve building new infrastructure that draws in water from distant sources -- California, I'm looking at you -- that's an expensive proposal for all but the largest and most dire situations. For small towns, the safer bet is to look at water they already have but deemed too dirty to treat.

The folks at Siemens recently put out this video promoting their Contrafast treatment technology. While it's purpose is entirely self-promotional, it's also a nice look at how one town -- Aurora, Colo. -- faced the music in an elegant way.

Amazingly, the city for many years relied exclusively on runoff from melting mountain snow caps for water. When the weather didn't cooperate, officials were forced to look at the South Platte River -- far less pristine than mountain sources, with algae, clay and sediment in the mix -- for water.

The good news is that technology has advanced enough to do something with water of this quality. With a little technology -- and a lot of energy, unfortunately -- the community is reusing water at home, rather than searching further away for new sources.

The result: an extra 50 million gallons of water per day on tap, a roughly 20 percent increase to its existing supply and enough to ensure that the town will be sustainable through 2030.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com