Democrats smother the supposed Big Red Wave

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Like Yankee’s Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra use to say, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” Well, the fat lady sang and the supposed “Big Red Wave” of Republican dominance was a mere ripple in the mid-term elections.

Republicans failed to control the U.S. Senate, but, as I write this column, it looks like they will gain control of the House of Representatives.

The much smaller number of Congressional seats which is going to the “other party” defies historic mid-term election trends. Plus, Colorado showed its true color of blue.

In spite of supposed changing influences which Republicans thought would drive more voters to their side, members of all political parties - including the unaffiliated -favored Democrat candidates in a majority of races. While Republicans thought inflation, crime and gas prices would carry the day, concerns over abortion, threats to our democracy and anti-Trump thinking prevailed for the most part.

Many Trump-endorsed Congressional and state position candidates failed to win their respective seats. Trump’s magic touch didn’t work this time around and may well be a sign of his weakened influence.

Trump’s presidential announcement

As the news media has reported, former president Trump has now announced his decision to run for president in the 2024 election.

When the “Big Red Wave” was being touted as the outcome of the mid-term elections, I could see why he thought he should throw his hat in the ring for the next presidential slug-fest. He could ride the “Wave.”

However, now that the “Wave” was but a myth and the Democrats prevented a sweeping takeover, he should have re-thought his decision. His influence and popularity among Republican voters is clearly on the wane. His countless statements on “Stop the Steal” and the conjecture of his involvement in the infamous January 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol and attack on our democracy have caught up with him.

Plus, there are Republicans who are willing to take him on in a presidential contest. While I am not a fan of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, I do believe he would be a viable candidate and would be quite popular with more mainline Republicans.

And I bet that there are other Republicans primed to throw their hats in the ring. It is not a “slam-dunk” proposition for any Republican candidates to garner the party’s favor in 2024.

Trump’s behavior about DeSantis as a presidential opponent

With Governor DeSantis’ dominant re-election win, he is now seen by some political observers as the leading Republican candidate for president. In a preview of what may well play out between Trump and DeSantis, we saw Trump’s behavior toward DeSantis as vindictive and childish. He lashed out at DeSantis by criticizing his “loyalty and class” as well as calling him “average.”

Trump has coined a new label for his possible opponent as “Ron DeSanctimonious.”

This type of behavior shows that Trump has the belief that he is heir apparent to the Republican presidential seat. With his typical egotistical comments that he knocked off his opponents in the 2016 primary and that he would and could do it again in the 2024 race, we got a preview of what it likely will be. However, a segment of Republicans are tired of such a caustic style.

Pop some popcorn, sit back and watch “the show” for the next two years.

Think about using reuse water for potable water in the west

I am guessing that your initial reaction is “ugh”, “whew” or “are you kidding me” to the idea of taking recycled wastewater and using it in the community’s potable (drinking) water system.

Well, buck up as it is coming. I can’t tell you how soon or which cities, but it is in the works.

The concept was lurking in the corner when I was still city manager back in the 1990s. Climate change coupled with the extended drought in the West has state water quality agencies and public water service providers taking a serious look at the idea.

A couple of weeks ago, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission unanimously gave preliminary approval to regulate direct potable reuse. This means taking higher treated wastewater (sewage) and putting it into the water distribution system for human consumption. It would be in your water supply when you wash dishes, laundry, flush a toilet or drink the water. This approach would not first require discharging the effluent into a body of water for initial cleansing. The Commission will take a final vote later this month.

If approved, Colorado would become the first state to adopt direct potable reuse water regulations. According to non-profit Western Resources Advocate, Florida, California and Arizona are moving smartly to adopt regulations as well. Meanwhile, a small group of other states are starting the process or have existing projects.

Reusing water could be a game changer for Colorado

With its continued growth and need for more housing units, Colorado’s public water service providers could use this option to cope with increasing demand with a shrinking water supply.

Obviously, there are numerous hurdles to overcome assuming the state water quality control commission grants final approval. And certainly it would not be an overnight “throw the switch” type of endeavor. There would be strict water quality standards to meet which would involve an additional level of wastewater treatment for many municipalities and special districts.

For those public utilities like Aurora and Westminster which already use recycled wastewater on golf courses, parks and some private turf areas, it remains to be determined if their extra level of treatment would meet the potable water standard.

There are a couple of factors to keep in mind if implementation is to be pursued.

Colorado water law and availability of wastewater effluent

In Colorado, there is a complicated body of law that dictates and oversees the priority, diversion, use and return flow requirements of water. These laws come into play when considering the use of treated wastewater.

Such wastewater which originates from local rivers and creeks often must be returned to the source for downstream users. These users expect and depend on minimum stream flows as required by Colorado law. However, “imported water” such as Colorado River water which is pumped over the Continental Divide in many cases can be completely used up. So, for each municipality or water district, it will vary on return flow requirements back to the source. The other factor in planning to use treated wastewater for drinking water is to what degree the treated effluent is already being used for turf irrigation i.e. golf courses etc.

In Aurora’s case, the city is currently using only about 10% of its reuse treated effluent for turf irrigation and has little return flow requirements. On the other hand, Westminster sells its higher treated recycled water to owners who use it for turf irrigation. The city itself is the largest user which includes Legacy Ridge Golf Course, some parks and even the lawn at city hall.

City staff has consistently told me that all of the treated effluent has been allocated and is being used. So, using the treated wastewater for potable drinking water is not available unless the city would drop a portion of what is currently being used for irrigation. A key reason that Westminster does not have more effluent to allocate is that the city falls into two separate drainage basins. Roughly speaking, all Westminster development south of 92nd Avenue flows to the Metro Water Recovery treatment plant and does not get the benefit of the plant’s effluent.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media. You can contact him at bcjayhawk68@gmail.com.

Bill Christopher, opinion, politics, local,

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