Water Reclamation Facility

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.

Picture of Mountains


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 Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) 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.


To meet these challenges, we are relocating and expanding our facilities to a new site near the current WRF. When completed, the new WRF 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 WRF’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.

Preliminary Conceptual Layout

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 water reclamation 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.

Rate Increases

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 Details

Construction is anticipated to take place from 2023 through 2025. The new facility will include the following operations:

Headworks Building

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 WRF, leveling out the peak flow periods of the day.


Learn about biological nutrient removal (BNR) basins.