Metro Wastewater Reclamation District Opens New $417 Million Facility

Photo credit Kuck Mechanical Contractors, L.L.C.

Here’s the release from the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District:

The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District today celebrated the grand opening of its Northern Treatment Plant. Planned since 1982, the new $417 million facility is one of the most advanced in the western United States.

Designed to protect the South Platte River and support rapid community growth, the facility is capable of cleaning 24 million gallons per day and will eventually serve up to 750,000 customers across Aurora, Brighton, Commerce City, Thornton, unincorporated Adams County and Denver.

“By investing in critical infrastructure, we are investing in the future of the communities where we live and work,” said Catherine Gerali, District Manager of the Metro District. “Completion of the Northern Treatment Plant ensures safe, reliable and cost-effective water reclamation for the 1.8 million Coloradans who rely on the essential public service we provide.”

Under Budget and on Schedule
Construction of the Northern Treatment Plant was completed on schedule and the $417 million total program cost was nearly $60 million less than original budget estimates. This includes design and construction of the treatment facilities and a nearly seven-mile pipeline that uses gravity – not pump stations – to transport flow to the plant.

“This is one of the largest progressive design-build municipal water projects ever delivered in the U.S.,” says CH2M Chairman and CEO Jacqueline Hinman. “The innovative delivery process allowed for the greatest level of collaboration with all project stakeholders, while maintaining a keen focus on safety. We applaud the Metro District’s foresight in delivering a technologically advanced treatment facility that will make a great difference in our community, protect our environment and preserve critical water supplies for our growing region.”

A Legacy of Environmental Stewardship
The Northern Treatment Plant strengthens the Metro District’s more than 50-year track record of environmental stewardship. The new facility features the latest proven water reclamation technologies to protect the South Platte River, alongside onsite resource recovery for energy generation and agricultural applications.

“Protecting the environment is the very reason for the Metro District’s existence,” Gerali added. “We were formed in 1961 to clean up the South Platte River and the Northern Treatment Plant strengthens our more than 50-year legacy of environmental stewardship.”

A Community Resource
The Northern Treatment Plant provides community amenities with opportunities for public recreation and education. The facility includes more than a mile of riverside trails and seating around a wetland area. Ultimately, these trails are designed to serve as a connection with a regional trail system that is envisioned to extend from Wyoming to New Mexico. The new facility’s Administration Building includes educational exhibits to inform visitors about how water reclamation protects the South Platte River and benefits the environment.

Facts & Figures

  • The Metro District is the largest water reclamation provider in the Rocky Mountain West, serving about 1.8 million people in a 715 square-mile area.
  • The Northern Treatment Plant is one of the most advanced facilities in the western United States and will eventually serve up to 750,000 customers
  • Every day the District collects and reclaims about 130 million gallons of wastewater – enough to fill nearly 200 Olympic-size swimming pools.
  • For nine months out of the year, roughly 90% of the water in the South Platte River comes from the outfalls of the District’s Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility.
  • The District makes enough energy onsite to power approximately 40% of its Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility using gas produced during the treatment process – that is enough energy to power roughly 5,000 homes.
  • The District owns and operates a 52,000 acre farm in northeast Colorado. We pioneered wastewater resource recovery for agriculture and have grown crops at our METROGRO Farm for 30 years.
  • For more information, please visit the Metro District’s website at

    Castle Rock Water recognized as industry leader for the second year in a row

    Castle Rock and Pikes Peak. Photo credit

    Here’s the release from Castle Rock:

    Whether it’s paving the way with a long-term water plan, rising to the challenge of having the best tasting water in Colorado, or setting an example for conservation – Castle Rock Water is a leader in the water industry. For the second year in a row, the department is being recognized for its efforts.

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment awarded Castle Rock Water the Gold Award in the Pursing Excellence Program for the department’s push to go above and beyond regulatory compliance. In 2015, Castle Rock Water was the first water provider in Colorado to receive the Gold Tier.

    The award noted the Town’s steps to be a leader in the industry and share best practices with other organizations. The department was also recognized for its operational procedures for source water protection measures, treatment goals and distribution components.

    Additionally, the department was recognized for four other actions:

  • Large meter audit – this audit examined the 5 percent of customers that make up 30 percent of consumption
  • Lateral arm well placement – this plan involves the innovative use of horizontal arms for vertical well production; horizontal arms doubles the production of vertical wells
  • Valve and hydrant maintenance program – with this program in place, repair and emergency budgets are easier to estimate; additionally, customers are better informed of outages
  • Chemical optimization – continually analyzing the chemical solutions used for water treatment to ensure the highest quality water and lowest treatment costs
  • “Castle Rock Water’s faithful commitment to the environment extends to our staff, our customers and to the community in which we operate,” said Castle Rock Water Director Mark Marlowe. “We take our motto, be water wise, to heart, and are committed to being a leader among the water industry.”

    To find out more about everything happening with Castle Rock Water, head to, or check out the new conservation website

    Loveland hopes to mitigate algae blooms in water supply

    Green Ridge Glade Reservoir

    From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Craig Young):

    Employees of the city department that fielded 600 complaint calls last fall about the smell and taste of Loveland’s tap water told the City Council on Tuesday what they have done to avoid a repeat this year.

    The unpleasant “earthy, musty flavor,” which was caused by a bloom of a particular algae in Green Ridge Glade Reservoir, was particularly bad in 2015 and 2016, city water quality analyst Tim Bohling told the council during its study session.

    Hot weather at the end of the summer helps the anabaena microorganism grow profusely, he said, and Loveland Water and Power wasn’t able to use the copper sulfate algaecide it formerly used because of new water-quality standards from the state health department.

    The hydrogen peroxide-based powdered algaecide the department threw at the anabaena in the place of the copper sulfate seemed to work at first, Bohling said, but it eventually turned out to be ineffective.

    “As we know and experienced, anabaena is a very, very extreme odor and taste producer,” he said.

    Bohling said the city hired a consultant to look at the problem from a number of angles.

    The potential fixes included using sound waves to kill the algae and send it to the bottom of the reservoir and adding oxygen to the water, but the staff settled on buying simple solar-powered devices that mix up the water to disrupt the growth of the algae.

    The anabaena is unusual in that it can adjust its depth in a lake to a level that is ideal for its growth, he said, and using the Medora SolarBee mixers defeats that ability.

    For $202,000, the department bought four of the mixers, which should just handle the 160 surface acres of the reservoir when it’s full, Bohling said.

    Among its other strategies to fight the problem, Loveland Water and Power will look at adjusting the level from which it pulls water from the reservoir to find the sweetest-tasting spot, he said.

    The department also will conduct a $30,000 study in August, when algae start to bloom, on the best way to use powdered activated carbon in the water treatment plant to fight the smell and taste problems on that end, he said.

    Several council members thanked the Water and Power staffers for their presentation and for their approach to dealing with a problem that has caused so much public concern.

    @DenverWater is running water in the @COHighlineCanal after headgate replacement

    Highline Canal Denver

    From (Connor Wist):

    Water is flowing through parts of the 71-mile High Line Canal for the first time since May 2015. Denver Water is sending water down the canal from the South Platte River after replacing a 130-year-old diversion dam in Waterton Canyon.

    In 2015, Colorado experienced a high spring runoff that destroyed the dam sitting 1.5 miles up the canyon. The wooden structure built between 1880 and 1883 washed away in the runoff. Denver Water successfully replaced the High Line Canal diversion structure in 2016.

    Denver Water typically only runs water to the canal, with an 1879 water right, periodically from April to October. The water runs depend on the availability of South Platte River water and demand from irrigation customers. With the new dam complete, Denver Water is able to send water to the canal once again with the current conditions…

    The High Line Canal starts in Douglas County at Waterton Canyon and runs to Green Valley Ranch in northeast Denver. The path of the canal falls within one mile of hundreds of thousands of residents.

    After improvements Berthoud Reservoir is filling

    Berthoud Auto Storage back in the day

    From The Berthoud Weekly Surveyor (Shelley Widhalm):

    The Town of Berthoud started filling Berthoud Reservoir on Wednesday after significant improvements have been made…

    “This project was to deepen the reservoir, dredge it out, increase storage, and provide better water quality for the raw water treatment plant,” said Stephanie Brothers, public works director for the Town of Berthoud.

    Prior to the Berthoud Reservoir Improvement Project, the water in the reservoir was safe for public consumption but carried an unpleasant taste and odor and had accumulated sediments, minerals, weeds and goose droppings, along with a problem of blue algae. Several municipalities along the Front Range struggle with blue algae resulting from shallow water usage, she said.

    “It looks a little deeper, and there’s less vegetation. Hopefully with the vegetation gone, we got rid of the algae in there, and any future algae issues will be easier to control,” she added.

    The sediment, which took up five to six feet of the bottom level of the reservoir, caused a loss of overall capacity. The sediment resulted from the town not dredging or cleaning out the reservoir since it took over ownership of it in 1890, according to Brothers.

    The town hired Western States Reclamation, Inc., in Frederick, to dredge and improve the reservoir, spending $1.2 million on the entire project, using funds from the town’s raw water impact fee. Work began in October 2016, with the remaining work of filling the reservoir to be completed in early May.

    The improvements expanded the reservoir’s capacity from 450-acre-feet to 574-acre-feet – prior to the improvements, the sediment had reduced what could be used to less than 400 acre feet.

    The improvements included reconfiguring the structure of the reservoir, dividing it into two cells, with the east cell deeper than the west cell, and adding an internal dam. Once the reservoir is filled, the water in the east cell will be piped to the treatment plant and both cells will be used for storage, she said.

    “The east cell allows us to have better water quality for the water plant because it’s deeper, and it makes it easier to manage,” said Mike Hart, town administrator.

    #Runoff news: Cool temperatures are expected to moderate snowmelt from the recent storm

    From The Boulder Daily Camera (Charlie Brennan):

    The report was the same from Kevin Houck, chief of watershed and flood protection for the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

    “I think the cooler weather is going to minimize” runoff issues. “This cool air just shuts down the runoff, and while it can speed back up if we had a really big warm-up come this way, I’m not seeing any forecasts calling for that. I think it’s going to be a pretty controlled runoff. Elevated for a few days, but nothing close to flood levels.”


    Snow totals across western Boulder County from the spring storm were impressive. According to the National Weather Service, 42 inches fell southeast of Allenspark, through Friday morning. A total of 41.7 inches came down northeast of Ward, also as of Friday morning. And by 7 a.m. Friday, 30 inches had accumulated northeast of Nederland.

    The totals down low were less significant, with Boulder meteorologist Matt Kelsch reporting 6.1 inches of snow in the city through 7 a.m. Friday, and a total of 3.4 inches of liquid precipitation, in both rain and snow, since the storm’s onset.

    “I have not seen all of the updated snowpack figures yet,” Kelsch said in an email. “We were running a little below average for this time of year as of May 1st (Coal Creek, Boulder Creek and St. Vrain Creek were 85-90 percent of average). My guess is that we are at least a little above average now.

    “That does increase the risk of high flows and maybe some out-of-bank flows over the next few weeks. The extent depends on temperature and precipitation over the next few weeks. A very rapid warm-up could cause a fast melting and more risk of flooding.”

    Dave Gochis, a hydrometeorologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, also issued a note of caution.

    “There certainly is a heightened risk from the recent precipitation,” Gochis said in an email. “The actual occurrence of flooding will depend on how much more precipitation we get, as well as how quickly we warm up after this event moves out.

    “Forecasts from the National Water Model are showing appreciable rises in streamflow across the Front Range moving into next week mostly due to melt runoff. Streams will come up, but I think more serious flooding will depend strongly on whether or not we get some heavy rain showers on top of this current condition of wet soils and wet and melting snow.”