This is Home. We treat it right.
We take great care and pride in ensuring the health of our home. This means making our facilities as efficient and green as possible. It means eliminating the impact on our environment. It means taking the responsibility of caring for the headwaters seriously. It means ensuring our quality of life. And it means delivering this in the most cost-effective way possible.
So while you may not think much about what happens when you flush the toilet, we obsess about it. And we want to make sure we treat it right.
Today, our District faces the challenge of an aging treatment facility approaching a 50-year service life and an inability to achieve higher water quality standards mandated in the next few years by the Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Water Quality Control Division. Although we have maintained District resources in excellent condition, the Upper Thompson Sanitation District Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) was constructed in the mid-1970s. The facility is difficult to maintain, nearing capacity, and not equipped to meet future water quality regulations. Additionally, the existing facilities do not meet current electrical, building code, and safety requirements.
BUILDING A CLEAN FUTURE
To meet these challenges, we are relocating and expanding our facilities to a new site near the current WWTF. When completed, the new WWTF will ensure compliance with future regulatory requirements, accommodate future growth, and protect the water quality of the Big Thompson River. This new facility will incorporate state-of-the-art treatment technologies, materials, and equipment utilizing biological nutrient removal, removal of heavy metals, solids digestion and handling processes and current building codes. Once completed, the project will provide additional space for build-out treatment capacity for the entire Estes Valley.
Currently, the District processes an average of 840,000 gallons of wastewater each day with a peak month flow of 1.4 MGD, which is near the WWTF’s permitted capacity. The District’s service area is 44 square miles and the collection system length is 96 miles. The new facility will allow us to process up to 3,000,000 gallons per day which is important to keep up with the demands of our growing community and economy as the usage fluctuates greatly in the summer peak season.
Cost of the project
Final costs have yet to be determined, however preliminary estimates range between $48-60 million depending on the process selection and the sewer interceptor alignment.
Funding the wastewater treatment facility
This project is expected to be financed through long-term, low-interest loans from the Colorado Water and Power Development Authority’s State Revolving Fund, and/or the United States Department of Agriculture in addition to District capital reserves and rate increases. The District will also investigate state and federal grant opportunities for design and construction.
The UTSD sewer rate increase has been assessed at 11% each year over the next three years; 2021-2023, and diminishing increases for subsequent years. In 2021 this translates into an extra $5.33/month for most customers in the District. In 2022, the rate increase will be an additional $5.92/month, and in 2023 the rate increase will be an additional $6.58/month for most customers. This fee will vary from customer to customer assessed as a flat rate fee or calculated on metered water use. These rates are subject to annual evaluation and possible reduction based on total project cost, grants obtained, and loan interest rates at the time of final completion.
Construction is anticipated to take place from 2023 through 2025. The new facility will include the following operations:
The headworks building contains equipment and processes designed to remove large amounts of inorganic debris including rags, sand, and rocks (grit), and fats, oils, and grease (FOG).
Lift Stations/Flow Equalization Basin
Sewage is pumped through two lift stations into an equalization basin to allow proportional flow rates into the WWTF, leveling out the peak flow periods of the day.
Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) Basins
Large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in wastewater effluent can eventually cause eutrophication (nutrient enrichment due to human activities) in surface waters. Excessive eutrophication can cause algae blooms in the summer, low dissolved oxygen levels, fish kills, murky water, and depletion of desirable flora and fauna.
Biological nutrient removal is a treatment process used to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater before being discharged into the receiving stream. The BNR process depends on the proliferation and type of microorganisms capable of removing nitrogen and phosphorus from the waste stream. Most BNR treatment processes include anaerobic (without oxygen) basins, followed by mixing, aerobic (with oxygen) basins, and solids removal by clarification.
Secondary clarifiers are large round settling tanks and the principal mechanisms for continuous separation of the biological floc from the treated liquid waste stream. A portion of the removed solids are returned to the treatment population, while some solids are permanently wasted from the system.
Advanced Water Treatment
The advanced water treatment process can include enhanced phosphorus removal polishing, and cloth filtration units or sand filtration to remove residual suspended solids.
The operations building will include plant administrative offices and a full-scale laboratory capable of testing, analyzing, and reporting the District’s permitted discharge data.
Solids Handling and Solids Storage
Solids removed from the wastewater receive further treatment, using aeration, chemical addition, and dewatering, resulting in the destruction/digestion of organic compounds. Once stabilized, the biosolids are hauled offsite to either a landfill or land application used to enrich nutrient-deficient soil.
Final cleansing of wastewater effluent is accomplished by ultraviolet (UV) disinfection. Ultraviolet light penetrates the microorganism cell wall and destroys the cell's ability to reproduce. The main components of a UV disinfection system include lamps, ballasts, and a reactor.