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Denver Water goes back to the future

40 years ago, our employees tried to predict the future. How close did they come?

Nostradamus never worked at Denver Water. But some of our past employees proved pretty prescient when predicting the future.

In 1978, Denver Water buried a time capsule to commemorate the opening of our new Administration Building. Included in that time capsule were predictions from our employees about what the future might look like when the time capsule was opened on our 100th anniversary.

Current and former employees celebrate Denver Water's 100th anniversary on Aug. 6. Left to right: Jim Lochhead, Al Crouch, John Woodward, Norm Carlson, Doug Hein, Ralph Cocozzella, Eddie Torres and Buck Young. Woodward and Hein made predictions that were sealed in the time capsule in 1978.

Fast forward to Aug. 6, 2018, and it’s time to crack open the capsule. So how did our predecessors do? You be the judge:

Prediction: “In 2018, all customers will be metered, and they will be billed monthly.”

Reality: This was spot on. Up until the late 1980s, Denver Water customers simply paid a flat fee based on the number or type of water-using devices they had. And up until 2009, customers were billed every other month. But in 2018, true to the prediction, our customers are now metered and billed monthly based on the water they use. And technology has made the job of reading meters much easier.

Prediction: “In 2018, we will successfully reuse wastewater for domestic use.”

Reality: This one was close. While Denver Water’s reuse program isn’t coming out of faucets yet, we do have our recycled water system. We take water that has been cleaned at a wastewater plant so it is safe to reintroduce back into the environment, and we clean that water again to a non-drinking water standard. Then we deliver that water to customers like Denver Parks and Recreation for irrigation of parks and golf courses and Xcel Energy for water in cooling towers.

Recycled water is part of a larger initiative Denver Water is working on called “One Water.” One Water is about putting the right water source toward the right use. It will be a key part of planning a sustainable water supply for our customers well into the future.

Prediction: “In 2018, the U.S. will have had at least one black president by 2018."

Reality: It’s not related to Denver Water, but it’s another accurate prediction of a significant event.

Of course, our past employees didn’t nail every prediction right on the head:

Bryan Campbell, meter shop foreman, reads some of the employee predictions from 40 years ago on display after they were unveiled from the time capsule.

Prediction: “In 2018, a cure for cancer will be developed, and we will make positive contact with extraterrestrial life forms.”

Reality: Sadly, this is a “no” on both counts, though scientists did find evidence of water on Mars not too long ago. (And here’s our advice to any intergalactic neighbors that might exist out there.)

Predication: “Nobody will be alive to read this in 2018.”

Reality: Hmmm, a bit pessimistic there. Clearly not true though. Moving on.

Prediction: “There will not be a Denver Water department by 2018.”

Reality: Wrong again! In fact, both Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper issued proclamations declaring Aug. 6, 2018, as Denver Water day. Yep, still alive and kicking!

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the men and women who worked at Denver Water through the years. While not all of them possessed great prognostication skills, they did possess the expertise and passion to build and maintain a water system that now serves 1.4 million people.

As part of our 100th anniversary celebration, we’ll be creating another time capsule to be opened in 50 years. So, what will the year 2068 hold for Denver Water? We encourage you to leave a comment with your predication. Then, make sure to check back here on TAP in 50 years to find out if it was true. Or ask your kids to do it. (But they may have to park their flying cars or take a break from teleporting with their friends to do it.)