Local residents are rejoicing in the large reduction of sewer smell off U.S. Highway 50, thanks to a big project by the Pueblo West Metropolitan District in building a new — and more efficient — bio solids facility.
The project cost about $5 million and was completed this summer.
The new process used for wastewater treatment at the bio solids facility gives better process control, lower operational costs and much less odor.
Additionally, there is now a beneficial use for the bio solids, taken by Parker Ag in Limon and used as crop fertilizer.
“We need to put clear, clean water back in the river, and how to do that is by taking the solids out, stabilizing and treating before returning water to the waterway,” said Jim Quam, wastewater treatment manager for Pueblo West.
Wastewater comes from both residential and commercial/industrial uses.
Quam said that although people tend to think of wastewater as being the byproduct of toilets, it also comes residentially from bathtubs, laundry, dishwashers and kitchen sinks, and in many forms from businesses.
Construction of the new bio solids facility means many good things for Pueblo West.
Residents often complained about the odors in the area along Highway 50 between Pueblo West and Pueblo (where the facility is located), because with the previous treatment process, lagoons were used, which often released a lot of bad odor.
Now, there are three huge digester tanks (260,000 gallons each) for housing the wastewater as it is treated and processed.
In addition, the solids removed from the wastewater are taken off the premises and used for fertilization purposes, which also helps in odor reduction.
As part of the $5 million project, any remaining solids were removed from the lagoons, and they are now being filled with clean dirt.
Inside the treatment facility, there is a lot of work that goes unseen to remove the solids and begin purifying the water for reuse.
An aerobic digestion process is used with natural bugs to treat the water and solids.
“This is what you learned about in biology in school,” Quam said.
“Nature gives us these bugs, and if you give them oxygen and the right amount of organics (food), the bugs will do their job in treating.”
Wastewater is sent through a belt filter press, which separates the solids from the water.
Solids are then transferred into a semi-truck, which is removed once a week by Parker Ag.
The water continues on through the treatment plant and is eventually put back into the river.
“This project is a combination of a better treatment process for the bio solids so that we have a better product leaving, and is also a significant cost savings on operation and maintenance on an annual basis,” said Scott Eilert, director of utilities for Pueblo West.
“And last but certainly not least, there is much more odor control with this new process.”
Eilert said the operation and maintenance costs will be cut in half with the new process.
All those savings will partially help to pay back the State Revolving Fund loan from the state government, which funded the project.
The loan debt is also being paid through a $5 per month charge per account for 20 years, or the remainder of the loan.
This particular SRF loan comes from the Water Pollution Control revolving fund, through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“This particular loan is based on water quality issues, and these loans are not for expansions of facilities due to growth,” Eilert said.
“Our bio solids project had nothing to do with capacity or growth, but is an in-plant process that needed to be updated.”
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