Three reasons you need a rain sensor

Published: 8/7/2019  2:19 PM
​August weather can be unpredictable, alternating between 90-degree weather and monsoon thunderstorms. With the bustle of school starting and late summer routine changes, it’s a challenge to turn your sprinkler system off every time it rains-- not t ...



Smart technology powers the home of the future

Published: 7/30/2019  1:48 PM
We’re partnering with Classic Homes for the 2019 Colorado Springs Parade of Homes to showcase the parade’s smartest home yet, and to learn how smart technology will power the future.You can join us for a special 'Ask the Experts' tour with our energ ...



Innovative partnership protects 11,000 acres of critical watershed

Published: 7/23/2019  9:20 AM
​On July 23 we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to continue our partnership with the U.S. Forest Service Region 2 Office and the Colorado State Forest Service to fund critical forest management and wildfire risk mitigation projects in area ...



Water outlook after 6 months

Published: 7/18/2019  2:15 PM
I love summer. Call me crazy, but I love the hot, dry weather. If you’re like me, the weather in June frustrated you to no end! While the weather didn’t do my disposition any favors, it did do wonders for our water supply. June’s weather brought t ...



Top 10 tips to keep cool this summer

Published: 7/17/2019  1:36 PM
​As temperatures rise and we transition from the cooler months into summer, you can take some easy steps to keep an attractive landscape and a comfortable home while using energy and water wisely. These 10 tips will help you reduce overall electric ...



AMI vendor contract signed

Published: 7/16/2019  1:02 PM
After months of evaluating proposals and contract negotiations, we have signed a contract with Landis + Gyr to update our end-of-life Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system with an enhanced Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system. As part of th ...



Hundreds attend Efficiency Expo

Published: 7/9/2019  11:01 AM
​The fifth annual Efficiency Expo welcomed approximately 400 people to the Conservation and Environmental Center on Saturday, June 22. Visitors had a chance to meet with staff and participate at 25 stations to discover efficiency tips that can help ...



Five tips to reduce yardwork

Published: 7/3/2019  2:15 PM
​Are you dreaming about getting out of town for summer vacation, but don’t want to neglect your yard? You’re not alone. After putting major effort into spring landscaping, most people like to turn to other activities for the summer. Unless you have ...



New Energy Vision adopted

Published: 6/18/2019  12:37 PM
​Energy Vision:Provide resilient, reliable and cost-effective energy that is environmentally sustainable, reduces our carbon footprint and uses proven state-of-the-art technologies to enhance our quality of life for generations to come. This is our ...



Turning commodes into roads

Published: 6/17/2019  2:43 PM
Saving water and reusing materials for the benefit of all customers Colorado Springs Utilities employees are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to save our customers money. One of the most creative ideas I'd ever heard of came about in ...



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Microfibers and microplastics, from drinking water to the environment   

  by  Steve  on  10/26/2017

​The next time you’re shopping for a new winter coat, cosmetics body washes and even toothpaste, there’s something you may want to keep an eye out for – microfibers and microplastics.  

These synthetic materials are found in everything from the clothes we wear to some toothpaste to the little scrubby creams we use on our face or bodies to wash away “impurities.” Many of these creams are defined as exfoliants, which I’ve sometimes described to my wife as a fancy word for nonsense. I joke, but I know how popular these products are in my own family. 

Nationally, microfibers and microplastics have become a hot topic. Several stories have recently been published on how these synthetic materials are making their way into the environment or drinking water. Here’s one from NPR on microfibers in clothing.  

As a water and wastewater utility, we have both good news and bad news on the microfibers front. The good news is that – thanks to a legacy of wise water resource planning – we get most of our drinking water from first-use supplies, collected in high mountain reservoirs. So, we’re largely insulated from these types of compounds ever appearing in our drinking water.   

The not-so-good news is that current wastewater treatment technology cannot remove microfibers and microplastics from the treated wastewater zeroplastic.JPGthat is returned to the environment. Since these synthetic materials are in a lot of the products we buy, they’re leached from your clothes every time you wash them, or go down the drain every time you brush your teeth, or use certain face or body washes. Once released into the environment, they can pose challenges for both aquatic species and downstream water users. 

From the wastewater utility perspective, new regulations could be on the horizon that would force us to remove these compounds from treated wastewater. While those new regulations could be years down the road, such standards would likely rely on expensive, emerging technology – costs that would eventually impact our utility bills. 

So, what can you do as a consumer to help? Just raising your level of awareness can go a long way. As a start, some manufacturers of plastic-free products have begun to use the zero plastic logo featured in this blog. Still, we realize that clothing made exclusively out of organic materials can be expensive. The same is true with cosmetic products that only contain biodegradable ingredients. We don’t expect you to break your budget to help us avoid microfibers and microplastics. However, scrutinizing labels a little closer and sending an email to manufacturers and/or your elected representatives in Washington could make a difference.  

Our hope is that before costly regulatory requirements are dictated to utility providers and our customers, clothing and cosmetic manufacturers are prompted to bring more natural, cost-effective solutions to the mainstream market.  

Meanwhile, if you have the budget and like to be cutting edge, I have found online stores that sell organic underwear, diapers, dresses, yoga pants, yodel outfits, pirate shirts, dress shirts, Superman tights and fancy ruffle shirts. Well, maybe not all of those, but organic and plastic-free clothing, toothpaste and cosmetics do exist both online and in stores.

 
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