The City of Pueblo supports the phosphorus-only alternative for proposed new nutrient standards for wastewater treatment plants


Here’s a guest column written by Gene Michael [wastewater director for the city of Pueblo] running in The Pueblo Chieftain. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

The state’s original proposal, Regulation 31, would set stringent standards for phosphorus and nitrogen that would cost approximately $25 billion to implement statewide, according to a cost-benefit study conducted by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority.

An alternative, Regulation 85, would reduce the immediate cost to about $2.5 billion statewide by postponing the more stringent requirement for 10 years. In addition to cost considerations, there are flaws in the scientific methods used to develop the proposed standards that are too complex to discuss here.

Either of these alternatives would require a greater level of wastewater treatment than Pueblo’s water reclamation facility can provide. It will be necessary to raise wastewater rates to comply.

Pueblo supports the third alternative, which sets standards for phosphorus only. The phosphorus-only alternative would cost only about $521 million statewide, because removing nitrogen to low levels is much more costly than removing phosphorus. We know it will work because Colorado has successfully used phosphorus-only controls to protect large lakes and drinking water reservoirs, including Lake Dillon, Chatfield Reservoir, and Cherry Creek Reservoir for more than 20 years. Pueblo’s water reclamation facility will be able to meet a phosphorus-only limit without taking on more debt for construction of new facilities.

Pueblo and the United States in general have a split personality when it comes to water quality. On one hand, everyone knows we need and want clean water. On the other hand, nobody wants to pay. And therein lies the issue. The living cells of your body produce waste products that the body has to eliminate. And when we do, the materials we flush away are rich in phosphorus and nitrogen. With nutrients, you cause the issue, and you have to pay for it.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

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