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Brighton water treatment plant out of compliance with EPA standards for 3 consecutive years

Violations 12 consecutive Qtrs. at treatment plant
Posted at 6:15 PM, Aug 26, 2019

BRIGHTON, Colo. -- We knew the water in Brighton was expensive, now - it turns out - it could be dangerous, too.

The same city that could see its mayor recalled over sky-high water bills now admits it was out of compliance with EPA water treatment standards for 3 years.

The water scandal continues to mystify even some who sit on the current council.

"The residents don't trust the city," said councilman Matt Johnston. "I, as a city council representative, do not trust our city."

The latest issue to surface is an EPA summary which concludes Brighton had "Significant/Category 1" violations for 12 consecutive quarters.

A city spokeswoman said late Monday those violations are for treated discharge that goes back into the river, not the drinking water.

But, Brighton's former city manager said late Monday that the reverse osmosis treatment facility also supplies Brighton with drinking water, so any violation at the plant should be concerning.

"Someone's at serious risk if the plant is that out of compliance," said former city manager Philip Rodriguez, who was fired in the midst of this scandal back in July. "Either Brighton or its neighbors downstream."

The city told Denver7 on Tuesday those issues were resolved and the treatment facility is now in compliance.

"We cannot say that 100% for sure all of our water is safe," Johnston said. "We can't say that."

And, in fact, just last week the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment required Brighton to send a letter to residents warning them about a dangerous back flow issue that could impact the drinking water supply.

For homeowner's like Jeremy Torgerson, it's mind-boggling.

"You don't want to cook with it, give it to your kids, your dog or anything," Torgerson said. "I don't know how many more punches the residents have to take from their own city before we finally decide that we've had enough."

The ongoing scandal has resulted in a flood of problems at city hall including the discovery of a $70 million fund from possible water billing overcharges and the subsequent firing of the city manager.

And now – there will be a recall election of the current mayor who insists the water is safe.

"The water here in Brighton is safe," said Mayor Ken Kreutzer. "I drink it. My children drink it. My grandson drinks it. This is another gross exaggeration."

But Johnston and others, like Torgerson, are no longer going with the flow. They insist city hall is corrupt.

"I'm tired of the backroom," Johnston said. "It's time for the public to know everything about our water system - if it's safe, if it's clean, where the money's at and what it's being spent for."

And while the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment hasn't issued a boil order, Johnston believes it's only a matter of time.

"This is a pre-boil warning type of scenario," Johnston said.

"The city government no longer functions," Torgerson said. "This a basic function of a utility department to make sure the water that goes out is safe. They overcharge, and now we have to drink bottled water."

Johnston says those who are sick should be particularly cautious.

"They're going through chemotherapy, and they do not know if they should be boiling their water at this point," Johnston said.