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Local news roundup with the Colorado Sun - 8/23/22

Water samples at the Clean Water Services brewing competition last year used to compare their high-purity water to other local sources of water.
Courtesy of Clean Water Services
Water samples at the Clean Water Services brewing competition last year used to compare their high-purity water to other local sources of water.

Every Tuesday, we talk with the Colorado Sun to find out what stories are on their radar. This week, KUNC’s Beau Baker spoke with editor Larry Ryckman.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Beau Baker: Let's start, Larry, with perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. These so-called forever chemicals are getting more attention lately. They're showing up in the drinking water of some Front Range communities. And now state regulators are pursuing testing for PFAS in biosolids. What's the latest?

Larry Ryckman: Colorado Sun reporter Michael Booth has been talking to state water quality experts about these forever chemicals. They're used in all kinds of products, including nonstick cooking pans, and they help resist heat, oil, grease and water. And as you say, they've been found in our drinking water, but also in Colorado's fish, and at this point, even people as well.

So now Colorado regulators say wastewater treatment plants may have to start testing for the presence of these chemicals in biosolids as early as next year. Mike reports that those plants may be required to investigate upstream sources of these toxic substances. He spoke to longtime residents out in the Eastern Plains, and they're worried about all of the biosolids that have been spread on many farms as fertilizer over several decades. State water quality officials say a grant program is hoping to help communities test for these chemicals and groundwater in these areas where biosolids have been spread.

There's currently no state requirement to test for the forever chemicals in biosolids, but wastewater agencies that do test for them have been finding forever chemical levels that independent experts call concerning.

Beau Baker: And it seems like Colorado is starting to pick up speed on regulating PFAS. Is there any real federal guidance on these substances, Larry?

Larry Ryckman: You know, not much. And that's really part of the problem. So the state is trying to to tackle the problem. They've put together a working group to study it and issue some recommendations. And it's just a it's kind of a scary and fascinating topic. And we're going to stay on top of this story as it as it develops.

Beau Baker: Lets hit the slopes, next Larry. Vail Resorts is going to limit its daily lift tickets. They say it's about managing the guest experience. Sun reporter Jason Blevins is tracking this. What are some of the details here?

Larry Ryckman: Yeah, Jason says you better plan ahead if you're hoping to ski or snowboard at any of the Vail Resort properties this year. That includes Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail. The company announced this week that it will limit the number of these high dollar walkup daily lift tickets sold every day of the coming season. Many resorts, including the Vail properties, saw just overwhelming crowds last year as a record number of skiers and snowboarders headed to the outdoors.

The larger crowds, combined with a worker shortage, led to long lines and frustrations for those who had to wait. Last season, Vail Resorts limited walk-up sales on just 23 days during three holiday periods. This year it's going to be every day, and these walk-up lift tickets can cost more than $225 at the company's largest resorts.

That's what they ran last year. So they're going to be capped daily after online limits are reached. Vail says it doesn't expect to sell that often, but we'll have to watch and see.

Beau Baker: And these changes won't affect or won't impact pass holders, will they, Larry?

Larry Ryckman: No, it won't affect season pass holders, employees or skiers taking lessons.

Beau Baker: Gotcha. It seems mushrooms are all the rage these days. We've got magic mushrooms on the ballot this fall. And reporting from the Sun says people are getting out to learn about wild mushroom foraging. Tell us more, Larry.

Larry Ryckman: Our reporter Jennifer Brown has a really fun story about the other kind of mushrooms. Mushroom hunting is growing in popularity in Colorado, in part because the pandemic sent, again, more people outside. But last year, it was also the best mushroom year in the Rocky Mountains in at least 30 years. Jen hiked through the Mt. Evans Wilderness recently with folks from the Colorado Mycological Society, they're a group of more than a thousand mushroom seekers who meet for weekend outings and travel to fungi festivals around the state.

They help newbies figure out which wild mushrooms are safe to eat and which ones to avoid. But they also what they want people to understand the whole biology of mushrooms and their role in Colorado's ecosystem. In this region alone, there are an estimated 5,000 species of mushrooms, so there's a lot to know.

Last year's monsoon rains created an epic mushroom season, which we're in the middle of right now. It's prime season right now in August. This season is still great thanks to our recent late summer rain, but doesn't quite compared to last year.