JT Coyoté
May 1, 2010

Ahh, Springtime — I love springtime in Summit County Colorado High Country. It’s signs are everywhere. The water is flowing from the mountain sides as the snow-pack gives it up. As the days grow warmer the winter ice covering Dillon Reservoir gives way to life’s liquid beneath. The skiing-tourist crowds drop to a trickle, and many of the county’s restaurants and businesses close for a week or two of rest and spring repairs.  

From the Reservior spillway the Blue River flows through our little town of Silverthorne. Past the Factory Outlets, the Silverthorne Pavilion, and the Town Hall it flows, complete with spring anglers doting its banks flicking their rods tips through the air.  Line and leader whip to and fro flashing in the sunlight, as the tied bait kisses the water in hope of spring trout. The fisherman plays his line anticipating the strike on his well placed nymph, yet the fishing itself seems enough.  Two blocks west at the Coyote Den, the basement sump pumps sense the rising ground water and begin pumping — a sure sign the melt, and mud season is in full swing — well, not always.

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The sound of the pump’s first groan sparks my memory, back to February 2006. That night the temperature outside was -18 degrees, when the sump pumps clicked on at about midnight. After 15 minutes, when they didn’t shut off, I decided to investigate. I scrambled downstairs to find the southeast quarter of the basement floor under an inch of water, and it was rising! I spent half an hour hurriedly moving boxes, antique guns and parts, and inventory upstairs, until the dining room and hall were filled with basement valuables.

This was not melt water, it was too early in the season and to cold for that. It must be a water main that burst close by, leaching water under my house at an alarming rate. As the pumps groaned in the background I called the police department. At 2 am Gene from Silverthorne Water showed up.  We began to investigate the possibilities to no avail. Since there was no clear evidence of the water’s origin, there was nothing he could do. He said that he would send someone in the morning to test the water and determine whether it’s of municipal or natural origin.  Well that piqued my interest — what test would determine the exact source, I wonder?

The pumps ran all night. By morning one pump burned out. The water level was now four inches as I waded to the pump-well and removed the fried unit. To Sanders Hardware I ran old pump in hand, luckily they had one in stock. I installed and fired it up just as the guys from the water department arrived.

I asked them about the test for determining the origin of suspicious water.  “We test for the presence of fluoride” one said. I replied, “Well, since the ground water here has a trace of naturally occurring calcium-fluoride or calcium-fluoro-phosphate, how will that determine anything.” He then told me that they test for a specific fluoride compound added at the water department.  “Sodium-fluoro-silicate” I quizzed?   “Yes, that’s the one” he replied.

Well, turns out the water was of municipal origin. After two weeks, they found a broken water main under the street less than a half block from my house. Two days later, the basement pumps went silent, and things seemed back to normal. Pure Bottled Spring Water has become essential and plentiful around the house since this happened. Every year about this time, when the pumps begin their annual chore, I reflect on those two weeks of artificial spring that began on that cold February night.


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