Three times in the last four years, the city has been forced to close the swim beach at Boulder Reservoir due to elevated levels of the E. coli bacteria.
A Michigan-based company believes it can prevent that from happening again -- but Boulder officials don't now believe the city needs such outside help.
"When I look at Boulder Reservoir, there's no reason for the reservoir to ever shut down from E. coli," said Will Bledsoe, spokesman for Lake Savers. Bledsoe lives in Fort Collins, but the company is based in Richmond, Mich.
"And one of the problems is that people don't realize how healthy a lake or reservoir can be with a few simple steps. ... Because I live in Colorado, I want to see that happen."
Bledsoe said he had reached out to a member of the Boulder City Council and to Jim Shelley, water quality program manager for the city of Boulder, but has not heard back from either.
Shelley was not available for comment Wednesday.
However, Michelle Wind, drinking water program supervisor for Boulder, said, "We do routine monitoring in the reservoir to identify if there are any water quality trends or issues we need to address. We haven't seen a chronic systemic issue with E. coli. And we continue to monitor and track that.
"If we saw an issue that needed to be addressed, we would come up with a plan to address that problem, and that might involve contacting different vendors, consultants or companies to come up with a solution."
The swim beach at the 700-acre reservoir -- not only a popular recreation destination but a key component of Boulder's drinking water supply -- closed from July 12 to 17 in 2012 due to heightened bacteria levels attributed to animal waste that had washed into the water. Elevated E. coli levels triggered another closure from June 12 to 14 this year. There were no closures in 2011, but another brief one occurred in 2010.
In such events, Wind said, it's not always possible to determine the source of contamination.
"If there was a lot of geese on the shoreline -- goose poop -- and there was a rainfall event, it can run off into the reservoir and it can elevate the E. coli levels," she said.
Jassen Savoie, a Denver-area water quality analyst, is familiar with Lake Savers. But he stopped short of saying Boulder needs its -- or anyone's -- help.
"They've had a lot of success out of Michigan where they got started. They seem like a pretty smart group," Savoie said of Lake Savers. "But I can't comment much on Boulder right now because they're a client of mine."
Savoie added, however, that contributors to whatever past issues the reservoir might have had can range the waterfront, from chemicals washed into the system as a result of people struggling to keep their lawns green to "poopy diapers."
"I wouldn't say Boulder is in a unique position whatsoever," Savoie said. "They are dealing with what much of the Front Range has to deal with."
Should Boulder call upon Lake Savers, Bledsoe said, what the company offers is an approach that steers clear of the "old (and harmful) chemical-dredge paradigm" and focuses instead on a lake's "inherent ability to restore itself."
Kevin Tohill, water quality analyst for the city of Arvada and president of the Colorado Lake and Reservoir Management Association, said Lake Savers may be invited to make a presentation to the statewide group's fall conference in November.
However, Tohill pointed out that Boulder's two closures in two years are not necessarily signs of a serious problem needing outside help. State standards, Tohill said, call for closure at a reading of 235 organisms, or colony-forming units, per 100 milliliters of water. A piece of dog feces the size of an eraser, he said, contains roughly 30 million cfu.
In other words, Tohill said, "It wouldn't take much" to trigger a high, but isolated, E. coli reading in an otherwise healthy lake.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Charlie Brennan at 303-473-1327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.