Woody Creek Water

The geology and history of Woody Creek helps us understand present day water quality. The geology of Woody Creek is quite similar to that of Aspen, with lead, zinc, and some silver as the primary minerals in the rich ore. Woody Creek, with specific regards to Lenado, started as a mining town. Once mining efforts died down after the silver crash, Woody Creek became an agricultural community and lumber camp for many local sawmills. Woody Creek agriculture helped fuel other industries within the Roaring Fork Valley by providing timber to businesses and feed to livestock.


Clearing trees for agricultural practices meant an increased surface area for runoff contamination, and higher chance of erosion-causing contamination when underlying carbonates are dissipated. Water might have high amounts of sediment, saw dust, wood chips, or bacteria at any given time. Still true today, the water is typically moderately turbid, meaning it has a cloudy or “dirty” appearance.

There was a brief mining revival during WWII to gather lead and zinc to make bullets and aid other military efforts. Many components of mining equipment were buried underground, and we are beginning to see heavy metal leaching into some residential water supplies.

As of July 2022, Woody Creek’s population is only 287 – but that number reflects the amount of people who are drinking from wells that may eventually pull some of these leached contaminants. A few problem contaminants we’ve detected in the Woody Creek area include: lead, uranium, copper, iron, manganese, silica, and sulfate.

Private wells are not regulated by municipalities, as they are not protected under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This means what minerals and contaminants compromise your well are unknown until it’s tested – and like municipalities, your water should be tested regularly. Aspen WaterWise is here to help make sure your water is safe for drinking, cooking, and bathing, no matter what land uses are practiced near your well.

Present-day activities contribute heavily to our Valley’s fluctuating water quality. Bacteria levels can change with animal activity and snow melt, so coliform and E. Coli testing is advised annually. Residents might notice increases of nitrates throughout the year, especially near farming or livestock operations because of fertilizer applications and animal waste.

Our current water quality can be dictated by population growth, urbanization, mining, agricultural practices, recreation, and even river modifications like the construction of dams or diversions. This article by Colorado State University describes in detail how these processes mentioned above affect our water resources. In the areas between and surrounding Glenwood Springs and Aspen, we have found and successfully treated lead, bacteria, and other harmful contaminants. You can reach Aspen WaterWise with any questions or concerns about your unique water quality.

While these processes can increase the health-concerning contaminants in our supplies, there are also a number of minerals that can be classified as “nuisance” in the home or workplace.  Some contaminants do not affect the taste, smell, or appearance of water, but may leave stains or tint things from bathroom fixtures, to your hair or clothes. Aspen WaterWise’s solutions for reducing presence of elements like copper, iron, manganese, and zinc prevent these blue, green, red, and black stains. Of course, calcium and magnesium cause frustrating hard water buildup, which can decrease the lifespan of common household appliances. Silica is commonly found in our testing and can cause scratching on surfaces that come in contact with water. Another nuisance contaminant we frequently treat in the area is sulfur, which produces foul smells throughout the home. Aspen WaterWise has 35+ years of experience treating these issues.

Generally, Colorado has hard water because of its rich subterranean mineral content. Water throughout Colorado is considered moderately hard-very hard, depending on where you are. The levels of hardness can sometimes vary with the seasons: water can be slightly harder in the winter when cold temperatures freeze water supplies, allowing water to absorb more minerals. Systems that rely on groundwater (like most of the systems in Garfield, Eagle, and Pitkin counties) have greater hardness than systems that rely on surface water (like much of the Front Range) because minerals will dissolve into the supply as the water moves through soil and rocks. Contact Aspen WaterWise to discover how these minerals can impact your daily life, and to learn ways to monitor and control which minerals you allow into your family’s household or your company’s workplace.