@USGS: Certain wastewater management techniques can lead to more mercury in groundwater

9th Annual Grand Junction Water and Wastewater Conference, August 13 and 14, 2015

Grand Junction back in the day
Grand Junction back in the day

Save the Date!

August 13 and 14, 2015, are the dates for the 9th Annual Grand Junction Water and Wastewater Conference at the Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main Street, Grand Junction, CO. The Conference is designed to provide water and wastewater industry personnel with current information and training to address relevant issues in these industries.

Topics will include Water and Wastewater Treatment, Collection and Distribution Systems, Operations and Maintenance, Operator Math, Laboratory Practices, Safety Emerging Trends and Technologies. TU’s will be awarded.

Link: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/CO/event.htm?name=9thannualgrandjunctionwaterandwastewaterconference

More water treatment coverage here. More wastewater coverage here.

Pueblo County is caught between enforcing water quality upstream and supporting a variance for the City of Pueblo

Fountain Creek Watershed
Fountain Creek Watershed

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Pueblo city and county officials are at odds over water quality regulations that could add millions of dollars to city sewer expenses.

The rift was great enough that the Pueblo Area Council of Governments backed down from a vote Thursday to support a variance for selenium and sulfates the city is seeking from the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission.

PACOG delayed its vote one month, after putting it off in December as well, in order to allow Pueblo County Commissioner Terry Hart to participate in debate.

Hart, along with Commissioners Sal Pace and Liane “Buffie” McFadyen, raised concerns that the county’s ability to insist on standards from upstream communities in El Paso County under the 1041 permit for Southern Delivery System would be compromised if they agreed to support a variance for Pueblo.

“Commissioner Hart is not here, and he wants to have a say,” McFadyen said. “In our future, we will have water quality issues in this county and we need to be consistent.”

That means the city will have to go into a state pre-hearing on Feb. 4 without support from other local governments. The variance itself will be considered by the state in April.

Pueblo City Manager Sam Azad said sewer fees could double or triple if the city is forced to meet numeric standards.

The reach of the Arkansas River below the Pueblo wastewater treatment plant has naturally high levels of selenium and sulfates. If numeric standards are enforced, no additional releases would be allowed.

Pueblo would have to pay up to $92 million and $9 million annually to seal its wastewater lines from collecting groundwater and to treat water released from the plant to remove all traces of contaminants, said Wastewater Director Gene Michael.

Sealing the lines from collecting groundwater, $35 million of the total, would actually increase selenium because existing treatment removes some of it from water that’s released. The disposal of waste from reverse-osmosis treatment would compound environmental damage, Michael said.

“Let me be crystal clear, the county is not in favor of spending $92 million,” Pace said.

One of the conditions of the delay was to give environmental attorneys John Barth of the county and Gabe Racz of the city time to work out a way to gain county support for the resolution without jeopardizing future SDS deliberations.

While Pace said that agreement was close, the city disagreed.

“It’s unlikely John Barth and the city would agree to anything,” said Dan Kogovsek, city attorney.

After an hour of discussion, City Council President Steve Nawrocki agreed to back off a vote until the February meeting in hopes of getting unanimous support from PACOG before the April state rule-making hearing. Pace and McFadyen promised the vote would not be delayed again.

More water pollution coverage here. More Fountain Creek watershed coverage here. More wastewater coverage here. More stormwater coverage here. More Southern Delivery System coverage here.

Bureau of Reclamation Releases Funding Opportunity for Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Feasibility Studies

The Denver Water recycling facility
The Denver Water recycling facility

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

The Bureau of Reclamation is providing a funding opportunity for communities in the West which may be seeking new sources of water supplies using water recycling and reuse technologies. Funding made available will assist communities in determining whether water recycling and reuse projects are feasible. This funding opportunity is part of the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART initiative, which focuses on improving water conservation, sustainability and helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use.
The Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Feasibility Study Funding Opportunity Announcement is available at http://www.grants.gov by searching for funding opportunity number R15AS00015. It is estimated that $1.3 million may be awarded this year.

Funding will be available in two funding groups. In the first funding group, up to $150,000 in federal funds will be available for smaller feasibility studies which can be completed in 18 months. For the second funding group – including larger feasibility studies which can be completed in 36 months – up to $450,000 in federal funds will be available. It is expected that most of the awards will be made in the first category. Feasibility studies are funded jointly by Reclamation and project sponsors. A cost-share of at least 50-percent of study costs is required.

The studies focus on examining municipal water reclamation and reuse, industrial domestic or agricultural wastewater, and naturally impaired groundwater and/or surface waters. Reclaimed water can be used for a variety of purposes such as environmental restoration, fish and wildlife and groundwater recharge, including municipal, domestic, industrial, agricultural, power generation or recreational use. Water reclamation and reuse is an essential tool in stretching the limited water supplies in the West. Since 1992, approximately $600 million in federal funding through the WaterSMART Title XVI Program has been leveraged with non-federal funding to implement more than $3 billion in water reuse improvements.

Funding applications are due on March 3, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time. To learn more about the Title XVI Program, please visit http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/title.

State provides $9.5 million for small community wastewater and drinking water system improvements

Here’s the release from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (Mark Salley):

Fifteen community drinking water and wastewater systems in small communities throughout Colorado will receive a total of $9.5 million to fund planning, design or construction of public water systems or treatment works necessary for the protection of public health and water quality.

Funding for the grants was provided by the state Legislature under Senate Bill 09-165 and SB14-025. Governmental agencies, nonprofit public water systems and counties representing unincorporated areas of fewer than 5,000 people were eligible to apply for grants of up to $950,000.

cdphewastewaterpotablewaterprojects012015

This list is subject to change based on contract negotiations. In the event a recipient cannot accept the grant in whole or part, the available funds will be distributed per the request for application and the small community grant program rules, Regulation No. 55.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

Four projects in Teller County intended to improve water quality and wastewater treatment have received a hefty financial boost from oil and gas tax revenues. Colorado water officials recently awarded $9.5 million for 15 grants to small communities across the state – nearly $2.7 million of which will be spent in Teller County.

The money will go toward a mix of projects, including upgrades that could increase water capacity for one subdivision, and improvements that could assuage water quality concerns by some state regulators.

The state fielded 80 applications, making the grants very competitive.

“It was a very popular program this year,” said Tawnya Reitz, a project manager for the Colorado Water Quality Control Division’s grants and loans unit.

Tranquil Acres Water Supply, which serves a subdivision near Woodland Park, received $791,198 to upgrade its 1950s-era water infrastructure. It plans to re-drill wells, install new pumps and build a 100,000-gallon storage tank that could help alleviate water capacity issues, Reitz said.

The state awarded $498,870 to help finance water treatment upgrades so the City of Cripple Creek can meet new chlorine residual standards, she said.

The Florissant Water and Sanitation District received two grants, one for a drinking water project and another to better treat wastewater.

A $200,000 grant will help pay for the installation of a new filtration system, Reitz said.

A $950,000 grant is expected to partially finance new pond liners and a sequencing batch reactor for wastewater treatment, she said.

More water treatment coverage here. More wastewater coverage here.

Salida’s treatment facility wins award — The Mountain Mail

Salida Colorado early 1900s
Salida Colorado early 1900s

From The Mountain Mail (Ryan Summerlin):

The Salida Wastewater Treatment Facility was recently recognized in an article by Treatment Plant Operator magazine for winning the 2013 Wastewater Treatment Facility of the Year award.

TPO magazine is the industry’s go-to publication, said Randy Sack, wastewater plant manager.

“We were given this award because Salida was proactive on staying up to date with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment mandates for effluent water quality,” said Dan Poole, a plant operator at the facility.

“And our success is largely due to the level of experience of our crew,” said Sack.

Sack is going on 37 years of wastewater treatment experience in Salida. The three employees under him have 30 years, 20 years and 5 years experience.

“We do the maintenance, run the lab, do the reporting – we even take turns doing the lawn outside,” Sack said.

“We’ve also been without a lost-time accident over the last 13 to 14 years. And we work in a very dangerous environment with poisonous gases and acids.”

The facility has also recently implemented a new treatment process called IFAS (integrated fixed-film activated sludge), which creates an environment for microorganisms that break down the waste.

The facility saw instant improvements when it implemented the new system, Sack said.

Before, the plant had been using a “trickling filter” system, which consisted of large tanks with rocks lining the floor where the microorganisms lived. With the new system thousands, if not millions, of half-dollar-size discs containing the microorganisms float in the wastewater and consume the waste before the water flows to the facility’s next compartments.

“With this new process, we were also able to get away from using chlorine gas in our disinfectant stage during final treatment,” Poole said. “Now, we use ultraviolet light for disinfectant.”

The measure of the facility’s success is clean water flowing back into the Arkansas River, said Sack. His crew runs a variety of tests on the water in their lab, covering biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, E. coli testing, pH levels, temperature, phosphorus levels and many other useful measures.

In addition, flathead minnows and ceriodaphnia, a species of water flea, are tested in the water to make sure they can survive in the effluence, Sack said.

“Unfortunately, you don’t achieve that success without some pretty high energy bills, but we’re working to cut those costs where we can,” he said.

More wastewater coverage here.

Sewage lagoons to be upgraded below ski resort — The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Wastewater Treatment Process
Wastewater Treatment Process

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Work to upgrade two sewage treatment lagoons below Powderhorn Mountain Resort could begin soon with state officials monitoring the process closely. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a notice of violation in September to Grand Mesa Metropolitan District No. 2 for concentrations of ammonia in the lagoons that exceeded the limits of the permit for the facility. There are no allegations that the district released polluted water into a nearby stream.

“We did receive the notice and we knew it was coming,” said Larry Beckner, attorney for the district.

The metro district began working about four months ago with Westwater Engineers in Grand Junction to upgrade the lagoons to meet current standards, Beckner said. The 1968 sewage-treatment system was to have been replaced by a new system to accommodate expected growth. That growth, however, hasn’t taken place. The treatment system, meanwhile, was to have been upgraded to meet standards that took effect in July 2010. The permit was administratively continued in 2012, Beckner said.

The current permit for the water-treatment system included a compliance schedule to meet ammonia concentration limits, said Megan Trubhee, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health and Environment’s Water Quality Control Division.

“The metro district failed to complete those upgrades,” she said.

The district is completing an evaluation of the facility, Trubhee said.

Metropolitan districts are established under state statutes to finance community planning and infrastructure projects, including initial construction of streets and some utilities.

Treated water from the lagoons is discharged into nearby Big Beaver Creek, which runs through pasture and farmland below, Beckner said.

There has been no discussion about whether the health department would levy a fine in the case, Beckner said.

The health department’s primary focus is to work with ​the district to ensure that compliance with the discharge ​permit ​requirements ​and Colorado’s Water Quality Control Act​ is achieved in a timely manner​ and no evaluation of potential penalties had yet been made, Trubhee said.

Violations of the Water Quality Control Act can result in fines of up to $10,000 per day.

More wastewater coverage here.