Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Episode 497 (11-4-19): “Connecting the Drops” Delivers Water Information to Colorado Communities

Click to listen to episode (5:26)

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 11-1-19.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of November 4, 2019.  This week we present another of our occasional episodes on water-related radio programs outside of Virginia.

SOUND – ~19 sec – from “The Fork Not Taken,” May 10, 2019 - “For most of the 19th Century, dam construction was the dominant solution for most of the water issues in the United States.” Historical recording: “The river had to be regulated, controlled at a year-round flow. No more floods, no more droughts.”

That historical perspective on dams in the United States is from an episode in the “Connecting the Drops” program from Water Education Colorado, in partnership with Rocky Mountain Community Radio stations.  Water Education Colorado was formed in 2002 and was known until 2017 as the Colorado Foundation for Water Education.  According to its Web site, the organization is, quote, “on a mission to promote a better understanding of Colorado’s water resources and issues by providing balanced and accurate information, education, and leadership.”  The organization’s activities include a compilation of water news headlines, a magazine, a series of citizen’s guides to water topics, a number of special programs and events, and, since 2013, the “Connecting the Drops” radio program.  Done in collaboration with community radio stations across Colorado, the episodes range from about 4 to 8 minutes, and the topics range from bacteria in waterways, to climate change effects on ski resorts, to forecasting water availability.  Let’s have a listen for about two minutes to excerpts from four episodes: on grease in wastewater, wastewater recycling in beer brewing, aquatic nuisance species, and monitoring for lead in school water systems.

SOUNDS - ~1 min/55 sec

From “When Not to Flush,” April 4, 2019, ~34 sec – “The sound and smell of bacon frying is a pretty common occurrence in households on weekend mornings.  Now imagine this happening in millions of households around the state and then imagine the cumulative effect of all those greasy frying pans getting washed.  It’s something Liam Cavanaugh, director of operations for Metro Wastewater Reclamation District thinks about frequently. ‘If you think about 2 million people worth of wastewater, that’s a lot of wastewater and so if every household is dumping their bacon grease down the drain on Sunday morning, that can cause a lot of problems in the piping systems and here at the treatment facility.’

From “Beverages Brewed with Reclaimed Wastewater Advance Reuse,” November 7, 2018, ~23 sec. – “Colorado is known for its adventurous and innovative microbrew industry.  But, the beer served in October at the Recycled Water Fest, southeast of Denver, takes that reputation to a whole new level.  This beer, and the wine on offer, [were] made with water taken from a wastewater treatment plant.

From “Searching for Aquatic Nuisance Species,” October 15, 2017, ~22 sec. – “Colorado Parks and Wildlife define an aquatic nuisance species, or ANS, as [the following]: ‘An aquatic nuisance species is a non-native species that has been introduced to a new location, has no predators, and has harmful impacts on our natural resources and the human use of those resources.’”

From “Monitoring for Lead in Schools,” May 5, 2017, ~32 sec. – “Water is so good for health, Jefferson County’s Stober Elementary strives to make it the favorite drink.  Fourth grader Aram says it’s perfect after exercise.  ‘When I play capture the flag I get a really quick drink.’ He heads to his favorite water fountain.  ‘Tastes really good. And, tastes cold.’  The water’s good in another way, because this Denver Metro school district has been testing every single sink and fountain for the heavy metal known as lead.  After all, excess lead can damage health. [Mike VanDyke, Colorado Chief of Environmental Epidemiology:] ‘Typically the levels that we see are really related to cognitive problems later in life, [such as] kids not learning as well, kids not being able to pay attention as well at school.’”

From Denver, Boulder, and other places in Colorado, “Connecting the Drops” is providing the Centennial State’s nearly six million citizens with a wide-ranging and engaging source of water information.  In the process, the program is offering a variety of western water perspectives to the rest of the country, too.

Thanks to the Water Education Colorado staff for permission to use excerpts from “Connecting the Drops.”  More information about that program and the organization’s other work is available online at watereducationcolorado.org.


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Connecting the Drops” excerpts were provided courtesy of Caitlin Coleman, Headwaters editor and communications specialist at Water Education Colorado, used with permission.  Contact Water Education Colorado at 1600 Downing Street, Suite 200, Denver, CO 80218; phone: (303) 377-4433; home page https://www.watereducationcolorado.org/.  Below are hyperlinks to the episodes excerpted in this week’s audio.  As of November 1, 2019, all episodes since July 2015 are available online at https://www.watereducationcolorado.org/publications-and-radio/radio/.

The Fork Not Taken, May 10, 2019 (8 min./3 sec.).
What Not to Flush, April 4, 2019 (6 min./3 sec.).
Beverages Brewed with Reclaimed Wastewater Advance Reuse, November 7, 2018 (5 min./46 sec.).
Searching for Aquatic Nuisance Species, October 15, 2017 (6 min./25 sec.).
Monitoring for Lead in Schools, May 5, 2017 (4 min./2 sec.).

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode of Virginia Water Radio.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.


The following images accompany episodes of “Connecting the Drops” on Water Education Colorado’s Web site at https://www.watereducationcolorado.org/publications-and-radio/radio/.  All are used here with permission of Water Education Colorado.

Original caption: “Water is discharged into the South Platte River near Denver, having been treated at the Metro Wastewater plant.” From episode “What Not to Flush,” April 4, 2019.

Original caption: “At the Blue is the New Green: Recycled Water Fest, Lucus Restrepo becomes one of the few bartenders in the nation to serve beer and wine made with recycled water.” From episode “Beverages Brewed with Reclaimed Wastewater Advance Reuse,” November 7, 2018.

Sampling a Colorado water body to monitor for invasive non-native mussels. From episode “Searching for Aquatic Nuisance Species,” October 15, 2017. 


Colorado Official State Web Portal, online at https://www.colorado.gov/state-information; and “State Name and Nicknames,” online at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/archives/state-name-and-nicknames.

Rocky Mountain Community Radio, online at https://rockymtnradio.wordpress.com/.

U.S. Census Bureau, “Quick Facts Colorado,” online at https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/CO. The Census Bureau’s July 1, 2018, population estimate for Colorado was 5.695 million.

Water Education Colorado, online at https://www.watereducationcolorado.org/. 


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html). See particularly the “Community/Organizations” subject category.

Following are link to other episodes on natural resources education programs outside of Virginia.

Episode 440, 10-1-18
– on e-Bird at Cornell University in New York.
Episode 471, 5-6-19 – on the “Water Rocks!” program at Iowa State University.


The episode—the audio, extra information, or sources—may help with the following Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
6.9 – public policy decisions related to the environment (including resource management and conservation, land use decisions, hazard mitigation, and cost/benefit assessments).

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Virginia watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course

LS.10 – changes over time in ecosystems, communities, and populations, and factors affecting those changes, including climate changes and catastrophic disturbances.
LS.11 – relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science Course
ES.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.

Biology Course
BIO.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

United States History: 1865-to-Present Course
USII.9 – domestic and international issues during the second half of the 20th Century and the early 21st Century.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.10 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.3 – how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.
WG.5 – regions of United States and Canada.

Government Course
GOVT.9 – public policy process at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT.15 – role of government in Va. and U.S. economies, including examining environmental issues and property rights.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels. 

Episode 250, 1-26-15
– on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.