Snowmass wastewater plant overhaul update

Graphic credit

From The Snowmass Suns (Britta Gustafson):

The water and sanitation district wastewater management plant, located next to the Snowmass Club Commons housing complex, is currently undergoing a major overhaul and expansion.

Upgrades to the current facility and a 44,000-square-foot expansion will allow the water and sanitation district to meet heightened state requirements for total removal of inorganic nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia from local streams and rivers. It also will improve efficiency as water demands increase.

Gov. John Hickenlooper in May 2013 issued Regulation 85, calling for the implementation of a strategic plan for all of Colorado’s water resources with a phased schedule for statewide wastewater plants to comply.

Each of the 44 water treatment districts in the state will now be required to start implementing these new regulations. Due to its size and location in a priority watershed, the Snowmass plant falls into the Department of Health’s first phase with a 2020 deadline.

The district considered 14 different processes and plant configurations to comply with total removal of inorganic nutrients before deciding on a University of Cape Town configuration with membrane bioreactor for enhanced biological nutrient removal.

Upgraded state-of-the-art equipment — including a supervisory control and data acquisition and an industrial control system that interfaces with equipment — will allow the operation of the plant to be monitored 24/7.

Probes can now detect potential concerns on a minute-by-minute basis, even offering remote monitoring and management.

As an example, Snowmass Water and Sanitation District resident project representative Shea Meyer said, “if a restaurant dumps grease, we can detect it a good deal before it contaminates and clogs up the system.”

Additional improvements will include the installation of new high-efficiency motors and a new charcoal-odor control system…

With a price tag of nearly $24 million, which Snowmass Village voters approved in May 2016 via a mill-levy tax, expectations are high…

The new plant should last at least 30 years, potentially upward of 50 or 60, Hamby said, “assuming additional (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations do not affect us.”


After thoroughly excavating the existing holding-pond base, the initial phase of the estimated 30-month project will officially begin.

Once the concrete pour is underway, the project construction contractor, RN Civil Construction of Centennial Colorado, will prepare and issue a timeline for the project.

RN Civil project manager Dave Ortt said he expects the construction schedule to be available within the next week.

Hamby said quality, safety and cost efficiency would all take precedence over the 2020 deadline and that the district may ask for an extension if necessary.

Community Open House & Reception: Edwards wastewater facility improvements, September 26, 2017

Edwards Wastewater Treatment Facility photo credit Eagle River Water & Sanitation District.

Click here to view the Eagle River Water & Sanitation event page and to register:

Join us for a reception and tour of the $25 million Edwards wastewater treatment facility solids handling improvement project. Now that the landscaping is done, we’re ready for visitors!

Please register so we can plan enough food for all participants.

  • 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Open house, facility tours, and complimentary food.
  • Noon to 1 p.m. – Welcome, acknowledgements, speakers, and short tour.
  • […]

    Improvements include:

  • Preliminary treatment enhancements.
  • Expansion of the solids digestion process.
  • Rehabilitation of solids dewatering.
  • Landscaping and aesthetic updates.
  • New odor control systems.
  • Snowmass: Construction starts today on new wastewater treatment plant

    Wastewater Treatment Process

    From The Aspen Daily News (Madeleine Osberger):

    Construction on the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District’s new $24 million wastewater treatment building begins today, after a re-bid brought the project cost more in line with what voters approved in May 2016 to spend, according to district manager Kit Hamby.

    The district signed a contract Aug. 1 with RN Civil Construction of Centennial for a new 44,000-square-foot plant that can meet heightened state requirements for removal of nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia from local streams and rivers. All 44 water treatment districts in Colorado must comply with the new regulations, although Snowmass happened to fall within the first round with a 2020 deadline…

    The majority of the cost — now budgeted at roughly $24 million — will be covered by the bond sales, which brought in $23.3 million. The remainder could be taken from a $7 million to $7.5 million capital project reserve fund earned in part from Base Village tap fees.

    Longmont: Wastewater infrastructure ain’t cheap

    Wastewater Treatment Process

    From The Longmont Times-Call (John Fryar):

    Longmont’s city staff is recommending raising the city’s sewer rate charges by 3 percent next year, followed by 2 percent increases in both 2019 and 2020.

    The City Council is to discuss the possible rate hikes during a Tuesday night study-session review of Longmont’s wastewater utility and that utility’s financial projections and needs.

    The Department of Public Works and Natural Resources staff said in a memo to the council that the proposed rate hikes “will allow the utility to maintain its target debt service coverage and appropriately fund operational costs” of Longmont’s sewage collection and treatment system.

    “The wastewater utility continues to experience cost increases that affect the utility’s financial outlook,” the staff wrote in that memo. “While staffing levels have been significantly decreased in the utility since 2000, resulting in annual cost reductions in excess of $2 million each year, operating costs have still increased by an average of 2.8 percent each year between 2006 and 2016.”

    Major drivers of those costs included regulatory requirements that necessitated large capital expenses at Longmont’s wastewater treatment plant, the staff said, as well as flood-recovery and repair costs for the sewage collection system, the city staff said.

    The staff also cited a need for “deployment of new metering technologies,” as well as climbing construction costs after the 2008 recession and what it said was an “aging wastewater infrastructure reaching the end of its life cycle.”

    In order to pay for capital improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant and infrastructure, Longmont sold a total of $52 million in sewer bonds issued in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

    Debt repayments from the wastewater utility’s budget fund have increased by $3.1 million a year because of those bond sales, the staff said, and the bond requirements include being able to maintain enough budget money to cover at least 110 percent of that debt.

    As part of its adoption of Longmont’s 2017 budget, the City Council approved an average 3 percent increase in customers’ sewer fees that took effect this year…

    Staff reductions, achieved after Longmont completed a 2000 water-wastewater strategic plan, “helped stabilize rates and provided more money for capital needs while service levels were maintained or improved,” the staff wrote.

    However, “while staff has continued to maintain service levels, major cost drivers in the form of regulatory requirements, natural disasters, new technologies, increasing construction costs and aging infrastructure have impacted the utility.”

    The City Council cannot make official rate-increase decisions during a study session but can direct the city staff whether to proceed with preparing a rate hike for formal council votes later this summer or fall.

    Clearas’ process uses algae to remove phosphorus and nitrogen from wastewater plant effluent

    From The Missoulian (David Erickson):

    Formed eight years ago, the company has developed a patented process to use algae to remove nitrogen and phosphorous from public wastewater treatment plants, keeping waterways from being inundated with the compounds that starve fish and plant life of oxygen. In turn, the algae can be sold to other companies for fertilizer, biofuels and other uses.

    Think of it as high tech farming.

    As the global population skyrockets, nitrogen and phosphorous pollution is becoming a significant environmental concern. Often referred to as “nutrient loading,” these two elements cause algal blooms in lakes and rivers that create “dead zones” that devastate vegetation and animals.

    Clearas officials say they have found a way to harness Mother Nature’s own solution to nutrient loading in a different way, making it a beneficial process that makes money instead of an ecological nightmare.

    Sewage contains high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous, and those two elements happen to be what algae, the fastest-growing plant on the planet, likes to eat.

    Phosphorous and nitrogen are in demand from the agriculture sector for their use as fertilizers. So rather than having life-killing algae in nature’s waterways, the nutrients can be put to use in corn fields.

    “I think the simplest way to describe what we do is to say that we take harmful constituents out of the wastewater prior to discharge into our rivers, lakes and streams, and we do it biologically sustainably,” explained company CEO Jordan Lind.

    There are other technologies for removing those nutrients, but they often involve chemical treatment.

    Clearas formed as a company when algae farmers in the Bitterroot Valley wanted phosphorous and nitrogen from Missoula’s wastewater treatment facility to feed their biofuel. Lind recalls that the head of the wastewater facility told them they could take as much wastewater as they wanted for free, a much better alternative than buying synthetic nitrogen.

    It was a “eureka” moment. Kevin McGraw, the company’s co-founder and operations manager, realized that they could develop a technology to harness wastewater’s nutrients to grow a valuable product while doing public utilities a favor…

    The company developed a testing facility at Missoula’s wastewater treatment plant on North Reserve. A series of tubes feed 15,000 gallons of wastewater per day through algae and return it to the Clark Fork River much cleaner than it was before.

    The company recently landed a contract to implement their Advanced Biological Nutrient Recovery technology at a Utah municipality called the South Davis Sewer District, which will be a 4-million-gallon-per-day system.

    Lind said Montana has relatively lax environmental regulations on what wastewater facilities can discharge, but in other places tighter regulations mean that more and more cities will look to this technology…

    In fact, some of the explosions of bright green algae that can be found in the Clark Fork River and other bodies of water across the country in the summer are caused by too much nitrogen and phosphorous from agriculture runoff, laundry detergents and other sources.

    The beauty, Lind says, is that Clearas is recovering the resource rather than just removing it. They have centrifugal machines that can turn the algae into whatever consistency a customer needs, whether it’s a watery sludge for fertilizing a field or a dry cake for making plastics or fuels.

    “There’s lots of potential co-products that result from the treatment process,” Lind said. “So you truly are going waste-to-value. And that’s kind of the new trend in our space. All these municipalities and large industrial plants that have wastewater, there’s value in that waste. The question is how you convert it. And our method is a proven way to do that.”

    Lind said there is a lot of interest in the company’s technology in the Great Lakes region, in Europe and in Asia…

    The Utah contract is the first of what the company hopes will be a long line of dominoes to fall. In essence, they hope that once one municipality sees the technology working, then others will hop on board.

    It’s a little more complicated because taxpayer funds have to be used to upgrade wastewater treatment plants. However, they have high hopes. Right now, the company employs about three dozen people, and they have acquired an engineering firm to deal with helping cities implement the technology.

    Andy Gordon, the company’s market development manager, said he believes the technology could transform the world.

    Telluride Regional Wastewater Plan update


    From The Telluride Daily Planet (Justin Criado):

    Council members and several town officials visited their Mountain Village neighbors to the north in order to discuss the proposed Telluride Regional Wastewater Treatment Master Plan. The plan has not been formally finalized, but it’s not likely to change drastically, Public Works Director Paul Ruud said.

    The two-hour work session included a presentation highlighting immediate, short-term and long-term goals over the next 10 years…

    The current wastewater treatment plant at Society Turn serves the communities of Telluride, Mountain Village, Eider Creek, Sunset Ridge, Aldasoro and Lawson Hill.

    The plant is reaching its originally designed capacity, officials explained. Plus, Department of Public Health and Environment regulations through the Colorado Discharge Permit System have been altered over the years. (Colorado Water Quality Control Division stipulations regarding acceptable metals levels in the water also changed beginning this year.)

    Those variables, in conjunction with an increased waste stream and new treatment options, make updating and eventually expanding the current plant paramount within the next decade…

    Immediate focuses include talking with commercial wastewater dischargers about pre-treatment agreements, seasonal restrictions on septage hauling to the plant and a receiving station for storage of septage, among other items.

    Ruud called the more immediate objectives “stepping stones.”

    The long-term plan, outlined until 2027, includes plant expansion to meet possible new state nutrient regulations.

    The San Miguel Valley Corporation owns the land immediately around the current plant. Ruud said there have been “very preliminary” talks with corporation officials about possibly acquiring more land.

    The total cost of all proposed master plan improvements would be in the $30-$40 million range. Telluride officials explained addressing future wastewater plans in annual budgets would help with the planning process. (Telluride had a specific focus on water and wastewater projects when sculpting its 2017 budget.)

    The recently opened, $22 million Fruita wastewater plant was used as an example of what is possible, but Ruud explained Telluride’s wastewater flow is higher than Fruita’s, which calls for larger improvements.

    Telluride Town Manager Greg Clifton said none of the master plan objectives are necessarily “set in stone” just yet…

    The city continues to replace outdated water lines, update treatment plant technology, and develop better ways to store and treat water and wastewater.

    Water and wastewater projects are covered through separate enterprise funds, which use taxes and service fees to raise capital.//

    For 2017, projected Telluride Water Fund revenues are $2.6 million, while projected expenditures are $3.5 million.

    Plans to replace more pipes around town and the Bridal Veil Basin are in the works for this year, including repairs to pipes that carry water through the Lewis and Blue lakes areas. The Mill Creek Water Treatment Plant is in need of equipment and holding tank updates, which are projected to be $278,500, according to town officials.

    Clifton added that exploring alternative, outside funding options will be a hot topic at future meetings.

    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