A Lesson in Sustainability

By Deborah Cortese, CCI Greenheart Local Coordinator and Greenheart Project Organizer

On February 24th I took my Academic Year Program and YES  exchange students and a couple of their friends to visit Pagosa Springs in Colorado. The name of the springs, “healing waters”, originates from Native Americans who took advantage of the springs’ therapeutic qualities long before settlers discovered the springs in 1859.

The springs occur naturally, but the current facility owes its beginning to the imagination of former owners, Matt Mees and Bill Dawson. They had a dream to modernize the area around the springs so that it resembled the environment as it had been when Native Americans used to go there. Current owners, Nerissa and Keely Whittington have carried on that tradition and are dedicated to operating the business using methods aligned with being responsible towards the environment.

Our goal for the day was to tour the facility in order to see how a local business operates, and to help out on a volunteer project.

As we toured the resort, accompanied by our guide, Brian, we learned about the Mother spring and the different soaking pools and how the system operates. The Mother spring which feeds mineral water to the pools has a temperature of about 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The different soaking pools are kept at different temperatures to cater for the varying preferences of guests.

The hotel on site is geothermal – water from the Mother spring is used for showers and other needs. After the water supplies heat to the hotel, it is recycled to be used in the resort and spa. No chemicals are used in the hot tubs. This resort was “green” before the green movement started.

Our Greenheart project involved helping Brian to tidy up the area around the springs, making sure it was neat and clean.

Pagosa Hot Springs is a unique destination. Visitors have enjoyed the waters for many years. No doubt they will continue to do so for many years to come since recent research has shown that all the minerals found in the springs have healing, restorative properties.  At the end of the day we left the springs with an appreciation of sustainable business practices and the satisfaction that we had helped contribute to the smooth-running of the resort.

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