Waterfest 2016 - Who we Touched & What we Learned



A Rocky Mountain Regional Mineral Water Forum

Celebrating the preservation, understanding and use of mineral water

Sept. 30 - Oct. 1, 2016


Waterfest 2016 brought together residents, visitors, and mineral springs spa owners & operators for fun water related activities and informative programs over 2 days. We connected with roughly 600 students and adults from age 10-86 to help increase awareness and understanding of our unique mineral springs. It was great to hear from many out of town participants about our wonderful town and what a truly unique natural resource we have here in Manitou Springs.     


Advance publicity for the program helped us reach over 700,000 readers and viewers of local television stations and regional print publications. Local public relations expert Wendy Wilkinson of Wilkinson Brown estimates that the media exposure had a value of over $80,000! Due to the great support of our sponsors we were able to raise over $4000 to help support programs of the Mineral Springs Foundation, Peak Living Project, and the Balneology Association of North America. Not bad for a small 2 day program.

The program kicked off with the first mineral springs water tasting at the Manitou Middle School. Thanks to Principal Ron Hamilton, we participated in a school picnic and asked students  to taste our local mineral spring water and write one or two words that best described the mineral water. Not surprisingly, comments ranged from bubbly, fizzy and amazing, to weird and gross. It was great to interact with the kids to hear and see their reactions to tasting the different springs.

Waterfest 2016 also brought back the long standing Mayor’s Cup Race for the Mineral Springs. Initially started in 1987 by then Mayor Dan Stuart. Dan and his son Tyler, joined our current Mayor, her daughter Grace, and 89 others on the scenic course through Manitou Springs.

The event also included a fun and informative mineral springs tasting, hosted by local health care practitioner Kathleen Morrow and Celinda Kaelin, a local author, lecturer and spiritual leader. Participants got to taste 5 different springs, talk about what they tasted, and learn about some of the healing properties. For many it was their first exposure to learning about why the springs taste different and how they might be used as a natural way to help maintain or improve our health.

Our four main educational programs were led by local, regional, and nationally recognized experts who shared their knowledge about our aquifer, efforts to preserve and protect it, and health benefits. Fortunately through the efforts of the City of Manitou Springs and the Mineral Springs Foundation, particularly with the Manitou Springs Watershed District Ordinance, we do have a good set of regulations and laws to help protect our precious resource.  We also viewed a new short video about where our mineral water comes from. It can be seen on the Mineral Springs Foundation website along with lots of other great information about our mineral springs - www.manitoumineralsprings.org.

We did learn from several speakers that we may be vulnerable in a couple of areas. We learned that the area just below Williams Canyon is the major source of recharge (filling) the aquifer under our town. Although during the construction of the Williams Canyon stormwater project some efforts were made to allow water to seep through the concrete bottom, this design may not be sufficient to ensure that water soaks through the ground as it flows through this concrete channel. We also learned that a large drainage pipe coming off Highway 24 leads directly into this discharge zone. In the event of a major highway spill we may be exposing our aquifer to risk of contamination. It is hoped that this issue will be investigated by the proper governmental agencies which are impacted by this drainage issue.

On a more positive note, many people left the event knowing more about the health benefits and history of our natural mineral water. For centuries, indigenous peoples and those who flocked to the area in the 1900’s to “take the cure”, came the Manitou Springs as a sacred place for health and healing. We found out that each of the springs has been tested to determine its mineral content and is regularly tested for contamination. To the surprise of many, we learned that Shoshone Spring rather than Twin Spring has the highest concentration of lithium, long thought to be helpful for mental health and depression. Although you might be tempted to drink lots of this water, we were cautioned that it should be used in small dosages to avoid the “purging” effect. As part of the program, a new booklet describing the Health Benefits of Manitou’s Mineral Water is now available.

health benefits brochure-full_Page_4.jpg