@WaterEdCO “Fresh Water News’: Aurora’s recycled water plant running at full-tilt

From Water Education Colorado (Jerd Smith):

Aurora’s futuristic recycled water project — Prairie Waters— is running at full-tilt for the first time in its eight-year history, a move designed to make the city’s water supplies last longer in the face of severe drought conditions.

“We’re pushing it as hard as we can,” said Greg Baker, a spokesman for Aurora Water.

In February, as mountain snows failed to accumulate, Baker said the city began mobilizing to ramp up plant operations, knowing its reservoirs would likely not fill this summer. “We were very worried.”

By April, Prairie Waters was running at full speed, generating 9.7 million gallons a day (MGD), up from 5.1 MGD last summer, a 90 percent increase in production.

“We could possibly push it to 10 MGD,” said Ann Malinaro, a chemist and treatment specialist with Prairie Waters, “but we consider 9.7 MGD full capacity.”

[…]

“Prairie Waters was huge, not just in terms of volume, but also because it’s really helped us advance as a state in accepting potable [drinkable] reused water,” Belanger said. “Historically, there has been a yuck factor. But Prairie Waters has helped folks understand how systems can be designed so they are safe and effective.” [Laura Belanger]

Twenty-five Colorado cities, including Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Louisville, operate recycled water facilities, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, but that water is used primarily to water parks, golf courses and to help cool power plants, among other nonpotable, or non-drinkable, uses.

But Aurora, faced with fast-growth and a shortage of water, realized more than a decade ago that reusing its existing supplies and treating them to drinking water standards was the only way to ensure it could provide enough water for its citizens.

Completed in 2010, the Prairie Waters Project recaptures treated wastewater from the South Platte River and transports it back to Aurora through a series of underground wells and pipelines. As the water makes its 34-mile journey from a point near Brighton back to the metro area through subsurface sand and gravel formations, it undergoes several rounds of natural cleansing.

Once it reaches the Prairie Waters treatment facility near Aurora Reservoir, it runs through a series of high-tech purification processes using carbon filters, UV light and chlorine, among other chemicals. Then, before it is delivered to homes, the reused water is mixed with the city’s other supplies, which derive from relatively clean mountain snowmelt that is carried down from the mountains.

2018 #COleg recap

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Marianne Goodland):

The Mussel-free Colorado Act came from the interim water resources review committee and was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on April 23.

Since they were first found in a lake outside of Detroit in 1988, zebra and quagga mussels have become a huge problem for waterways in the eastern half of the United States, particularly the Great Lakes.

Sightings have been rare in Colorado but they have happened: at Lake Pueblo in 2008, at Green Mountain Reservoir in 2016 and in March outside of Grand Junction. In 2017, according to the state Division of Parks and Wildlife, 25 boats were found contaminated with mussels, up from 22 boats in 2016. Those boats had all come from other states, with Lake Powell in Arizona and Lake Havasu in California as the places where the mussels most likely came from…

Fears that the nuisance could to do to Colorado’s water system what it’s done to systems back east prompted lawmakers to ramp up the state’s aquatic nuisance detection program, which has been underfunded for years.

Under House Bill 1008 — the mussel-free law — beginning January 1, Colorado residents will pay $25 for an aquatic nuisance stamp for their boats in addition to the boat registration free. Non-residents will pay $50 to use their motorboats or sailboats in state waterways.

The fee is expected to raise $2.2 million that will help Colorado Parks and Wildlife keep boat inspection sites open for longer hours and for a longer season. Doug Kreiger of CPW told the interim water committee last year that budget cutbacks have meant boaters could avoid inspections, such as putting their boats in reservoirs on private land or at the public ramps when inspectors aren’t available.

The law also will allow the division to recoup the cost of decontaminating boats that show up with mussels attached to boat or boat motors, anchors, anchor ropes, fishing gear, and boat trailers.

The water committee also carried two of the recycled water bills: to allow recycled water to be used for industrial hemp and for irrigating marijuana crops.

Recycling water — the process for treating water and then reusing it — isn’t new in Colorado; it’s been a part of irrigation for agriculture for years. But it’s gaining new attention, thanks in part to the state water plan. It noted that 25 utilities, mostly on the Eastern Slope, are already treating and recycling non-potable water and would look for additional ways for using recycled water as a way of addressing Colorado’s looming water shortage, with a goal of finding 170,000 acre-feet through recycling.

The water plan cites as an example the Colorado Springs utility, which uses recycled water for irrigation at golf courses, parks and other properties, as well as for cooling towers at local power plants. The utility reported in 2016 that reuse saves one billion gallons of drinking water every year.

Senate Bill 38, signed into law on April 28, would add industrial hemp on the list of approved crops irrigated with recycled domestic wastewater and in accordance with existing water rights. Industrial hemp is a crop that under the bill could not be used for food production.

Sen. Don Coram of Montrose, the bill sponsor, explained that hemp is a high-protein crop, higher than alfalfa, and that it poses no risk to cattle, for example. The bill was supported by the Colorado Water Rights Association, the Colorado Water Congress and the hemp industry.

The bill was amended to address concerns about water quality.

The bill allowing recycled water for irrigation of marijuana — House Bill 1053 — wasn’t as lucky and died in the Senate Finance Committee, at the request of its sponsor. The marijuana industry opposed the bill, based on concerns that the law would require cultivators to use recycled water that could contain pesticides that cannot by law used on cannabis plants.

Would you use recycled water to flush toilets? Colorado law changed a couple of years ago to allow developers to build greywater systems in new homes, but left out existing homes and businesses.

House Bill 1069, signed on April 30, would let businesses and multifamily residences, such as apartments, condos and townhomes, to flush toilets with recycled domestic wastewater. The state’s plumbing code is changed under the law, and toilet plumbing would have to be retrofitted to accommodate the rerouting of recycled water.

The General Assembly also changed state law on water quality to allow recycled water to be used to irrigate food crops, but only if that water meets the water quality standards for commercial crops under the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act. That bill was signed into law on April 28.

The law does not apply to big agriculture, according to the sponsor, Democratic Rep. Jeni Arndt of Fort Collins. She said the intention is to use recycled water to replace drinking water that is used to irrigate indoor grows;l community gardens; community-supported agriculture, usually farms of one acre or less; and other forms of urban agriculture.

Finally, the General Assembly put another $7 million toward implementing the state water plan. Under Senate Bill 218, $3 million would go toward developing additional storage, recharging aquifers and dredging existing reservoirs to add capacity; $1 million for agricultural projects; $1 million for grants that would implement long-term strategies for conservation, land use and drought planning; $500,000 for grants on water education and $1.5 million for environmental and recreation projects. That bill was signed into law on May 30.

On June 19, the interim water resources review committee is scheduled to meet in Denver to review a study commissioned in 2016 to look for new or enhanced water storage opportunities along the South Platte River, primarily in northeastern Colorado.

How Water #Reuse Can Help Meet the West’s Water Needs — Water for #Colorado

Water reuse via GlobalWarming.com.

From Water for Colorado (Laura Belanger):

The West faces a water supply gap, and the reasons are simple. Our quickly growing cities and towns are adding demands on our already stretched water supplies. Water reuse can help us fill the gap.

So what is water reuse and why is it important? First, it’s important to understand the difference between the two primary types of reuse: potable and non-potable reuse. Many states in the West currently allow for non-potable – or purple pipe – reuse for things like landscape irrigation, industrial purposes, commercial laundries, and fire protection, among other things. But a majority of purple pipe reuse is for outdoor landscape irrigation which really only benefits us during irrigation months (less than half of the year). But with potable reuse – where water is treated to very high quality standards to ensure it’s safe and often blended with other supplies – that water can be used anytime, anywhere and for anything. Potable reuse helps stretch supplies and meet more demand with the same volume of water. And it doesn’t require an entirely separate set of pipes (purple) to deliver it.

Western Resource Advocates is working with water utilities, local and state agencies, and other organizations to help increase water reuse around the West to address this growing problem. In Colorado specifically, WRA is working with a diverse group of stakeholders to help develop regulations for direct potable reuse and advance legislation to increase reuse to help the state’s water supplies. Recycled water has been used for decades in Colorado and states across the nation and has long been proven to be a safe, cost-effective tool for additional water supply. In fact, the State of the Rockies Poll found that 78% of westerners “support using our current water supply more wisely by encouraging more conservation and increasing water recycling.“

Currently, WRA and our partners are working to advance four bills in the Colorado legislature that would allow recycled water to be used for:

  • toilet flushing
  • marijuana cultivation
  • edible crop and community garden irrigation
  • growth of industrial hemp
  • Other states, like Florida, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, currently allow for recycled water to be used for toilet flushing and edible crop irrigation, and have successfully supplemented their water supplies this way. Colorado’s Water Plan also specifically calls for state agencies to identify how the state can foster increased reuse to help address growing demands, and these initiatives are a great step in that direction. By embracing water reuse for these applications and others we can help bolster our stretched water supplies, and work to help, shrink the gap between those supplies and the demands of our growing cities and towns. Water reuse, in concert with other water-smart tools and strategies, can help us provide for our communities while also protecting our beloved rivers and lakes, keeping them healthy and preserving the quality of life that they afford for all of us.

    How Water Reuse Can Help Meet the West’s Water Needs — @wradv

    Water reuse via GlobalWarming.com.

    From Western Resource Advocates (Laura Belanger):

    The West faces a water supply gap, and the reasons are simple. Our quickly growing cities and towns are adding demands on our already stretched water supplies. Water reuse can help us fill the gap.

    So what is water reuse and why is it important? First, it’s important to understand the difference between the two primary types of reuse: potable and non-potable reuse. Many states in the West currently allow for non-potable – or purple pipe – reuse for things like landscape irrigation, industrial purposes, commercial laundries, and fire protection, among other things. But a majority of purple pipe reuse is for outdoor landscape irrigation which really only benefits us during irrigation months (less than half of the year). But with potable reuse – where water is treated to very high quality standards to ensure it’s safe and often blended with other supplies – that water can be used anytime, anywhere and for anything. Potable reuse helps stretch supplies and meet more demand with the same volume of water. And it doesn’t require an entirely separate set of pipes (purple) to deliver it.

    Western Resource Advocates is working with water utilities, local and state agencies, and other organizations to help increase water reuse around the West to address this growing problem. In Colorado specifically, WRA is working with a diverse group of stakeholders to help develop regulations for direct potable reuse and advance legislation to increase reuse to help the state’s water supplies. Recycled water has been used for decades in Colorado and states across the nation and has long been proven to be a safe, cost-effective tool for additional water supply. In fact, the State of the Rockies Poll found that 78% of westerners “support using our current water supply more wisely by encouraging more conservation and increasing water recycling.“

    Currently, WRA and our partners are working to advance four bills in the Colorado legislature that would allow recycled water to be used for:

  • toilet flushing,
  • marijuana cultivation,
  • edible crop and community garden irrigation, and
  • growth of industrial hemp.
  • Other states, like Florida, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, currently allow for recycled water to be used for toilet flushing and edible crop irrigation, and have successfully supplemented their water supplies this way. Colorado’s Water Plan also specifically calls for state agencies to identify how the state can foster increased reuse to help address growing demands, and these initiatives are a great step in that direction. By embracing water reuse for these applications and others we can help bolster our stretched water supplies, and work to help shrink the gap between those supplies and the demands of our growing cities and towns. Water reuse, in concert with other water-smart tools and strategies, can help us provide for our communities while also protecting our beloved rivers and lakes, keeping them healthy and preserving the quality of life that they afford for all of us.

    Reuse demonstration project at @DenverWater’s recycling plant

    Denver Water’s Recycled Water Treatment Plant and Distribution System opened in 2004

    From The Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

    Colorado’s next big source of drinking water may be recycling and reusing what customers flush down the drain.

    That’s the idea behind a cutting-edge demonstration project set up at Denver Water’s recycling plant on York Street in north Denver.

    A group of engineering companies and water policy groups set up the project, which has been running since January, to show that metro-area water that normally would be treated and sent down the South Platte River could be captured and cleaned to the point where it’s safe to drink…

    Some of Colorado’s water providers have recycled water for reuse — mostly for irrigation purposes — for more than 50 years, said Laura Belanger, a water engineer with Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates, a policy group.

    But the demonstration project takes the recycling to the next step — treating water via a five-step process to a level where it’s safe to drink.

    The equipment, which can treat up to 15 gallons per minute, mimics nature’s water-cleaning ability but does it much, much faster. A gallon can pass through the system in less than 30 minutes, said Austa Parker, a water reuse technologist with Carollo.

    Water that’s passed through the Metro Waste Water treatment plant and destined for the South Platte River is passed through the system.

    The system involves using ozone, filters and microfilters that are 100 narrower than a human hair. Activated charcoal and ultraviolet light also are part of the process at the demonstration plant…

    The demonstration system is unique in that it doesn’t produce an extremely salty brine that requires its own disposal process, she said.

    Interest in recycling water and using it inside homes is growing across Colorado, Belanger said.

    The Colorado Water Plan, adopted in 2015, called for recycling more water.

    And a group of utilities, state health officials and water recycling enthusiasts are exploring issues around using and drinking recycled water with an eye toward crafting new state-level regulations, Belanger said.

    The cost of building and equipping such a treatment plant depends on many variables, including the quality of the source water and the type of treatment it needs, she said.

    But a recycling plant is cost-competitive when compared to the costs of obtaining and transporting new water supplies, she said.

    From Business Wire:

    Xylem Inc. (NYSE: XYL) has been engaged as a water technology solutions provider to the PureWater Colorado Demonstration Project, which aims to demonstrate direct potable reuse (DPR) as a safe, reliable and sustainable drinking water source. Denver Water has partnered with Carollo Engineers, WateReuse Colorado (WRCO) and Xylem on the project which is located at the Denver Water Recycling Plant and will run during the month of April this year. Some of the water produced will be used to brew beer to raise awareness among the general public about this water purification process.

    Water reuse is part of Colorado’s Water Plan to reduce the amount of water diverted from rivers and streams, creating a sustainable, efficient way to extend the state’s water supplies.

    Steve Green, Business Development Manager, Xylem said, “We are very excited to be part of this forward-looking, important project that aims to promote a sustainable, reliable and safe drinking water treatment process. It is crucial that we implement sustainable solutions, like water reuse, to meet future water needs. We hope that this demonstration will help to raise awareness and understanding among the local population and community leaders about how DPR can help to provide for their water needs now and in the future.”

    A range of Xylem’s solutions including a Wedeco MiPRO advanced oxidation process (AOP) pilot system and a Leopold granulated activated carbon (GAC) filter pilot will be used in the project which features a unique treatment train that avoids the use of reverse-osmosis (RO) membranes and their associated high capital and operating costs as well as brine disposal.

    John Rehring, Vice President, Carollo Engineers said, “As national leaders in water reuse, we were happy to partner with Xylem to demonstrate the use of advanced technologies – an extension of our efforts to develop a regulatory framework, and public outreach activities specific to Colorado.”

    Xylem is a frontrunner in the field of water reuse technology, providing advanced solutions and expertise to reuse applications across the US, as well as globally. In California for example, Xylem’s Wedeco MiPRO advanced oxidation processes (AOP) is operating at Los Angeles Sanitation’s Terminal Island Water Reclamation Plant. The customized solution is the first greenfield AOP design using ultraviolet light with chlorine – a significant innovation to make water reuse more sustainable and cost-effective.

    Last year Xylem signed a multi-year commitment (2017-2019) to support Water Environment Research Foundation (WE&RF) research into water reuse, building on a previous three-year research partnership and solidifying Xylem’s commitment to advancing the use of recycled water. Internationally, Xylem works together with the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and the Singapore Public Utilities Board (PUB) to progress water reuse.

    @UCLA: 100% local water possible for Los Angeles by 2050 #ColoradoRiver #COriver

    Map of the Los Angeles River watershed via Wikimedia.

    Here’s the abstract for the recently released study:

    This report assesses the potential to improve water quality standards while integrating complementary One Water Management practices that can increase potential local water supplies for the City of Los Angeles (the City). This final report summarizes the current practices and future opportunities at the City-owned Water Reclamation Plants and underlying groundwater basins and highlights the importance of considering all aspects of integrated water management even when dealing with water quality or supply-focused projects.

    Implementing watershed-scale best management practice programs to meet stormwater permit requirements will significantly improve water quality in all watersheds. However, additional mechanisms such as increasing Low Impact Development implementation and comprehensive source tracking and source control mechanisms will be required to potentially eliminate water quality exceedances. There are multiple efforts occurring in the City and the region to increase the recharge of recycled water into the ground and the volumes of remediated groundwater extracted.

    This research further assessed the impacts of potential water supply portfolios, with greater volumes of locally-supplied water, on GHG emissions and energy needs of supplying LA’s water. Conservation will be another powerful tool to decrease our dependence on imported water. This research demonstrates the complex interrelationships between all aspects of urban water management, including, for example, stormwater management and local water supply.

    Pitkin County embraces reuse of household graywater — @AspenJournalism

    From Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith) via the The Aspen Times:

    Pitkin County is now the second county in Colorado that can issue permits for graywater systems that allow some household water to be reused to irrigate lawns and flush toilets.

    Graywater is defined by both the county and the state as water coming from bathtubs, showers, bathroom sinks and washing machines. It does not include water from toilets, urinals, kitchen sinks, dishwashers or non-laundry utility sinks, which is often called blackwater.

    The city and county of Denver was the first to adopt a similar permitting process in 2016, and did so after the state approved guiding regulations in 2015. The Pitkin County commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance last week that sets up the county’s permitting process, which is voluntary.

    The city of Aspen also is considering adopting a graywater permitting system to complement its recently adopted water-efficient landscaping regulations.

    Kurt Dahl, the county’s environmental health manager, said a 1999 statewide study found that typical indoor residential uses amounted to 69 gallons of water per person per day, and of that 28 gallons is graywater as defined by the state.

    Graywater systems work by diverting household water away from its normal course — toward septic tanks and sewage systems — and into another set of pipes and storage tanks, where it sits until it is reused.

    If the water is used for irrigation, the water must be filtered before storage and then, optimally, pumped out into a subsurface drip irrigation system. It cannot be applied via sprinklers.

    If graywater is used to flush toilets, it must be disinfected and dyed before being sent to a toilet.

    Single-family households can store up to 400 gallons of water a day in a tank for either irrigation or toilet flushing, and multi-family and commercial entities can store up to 2,000 gallons a day.

    Graywater systems require double-piping of plumbing systems, which can be expensive to install in existing homes, and so may be better suited, at least economically, to new construction projects.

    Brett Icenogle, the engineering section manager at the Colorado Department of Public Health, said Friday he was happy to see Pitkin County adopt a graywater permitting process, and he hopes other jurisdictions follow suit, even if current public demand seems low today.

    “We don’t want to wait until there is a water shortage to put regulations in place,” Icenogle said.

    The local permitting process begins with the county’s environmental health department, and also requires plumbing and building permits. If used for irrigation, it may also require a state water right.

    Dahl served on a group that developed the state’s regulations, and he’d like to see other uses added to the state’s list, such as fire suppression.

    “I want to get this to the point where using graywater is an option for everyone,” Dahl said.

    Aspen Journalism is collaborating with The Aspen Times on coverage or rivers and water. More at http://www.aspenjournalism.org.