PUEBLO, Colorado — New technology at the Pueblo wastewater treatment plant earned the city national recognition for environmental stewardship. It also saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
The city worked with the engineering and construction company Brown Caldwell to install a full Hydrocyclone Ammonia Controlled Nutrient Removal System at the James Dilorio Water Reclamation Facility last June. It's the first treatment plant in the country to use this new technology.
"We built these hydrocyclones right onto our existing RAS splitter box, so the footprint is minimal," explained Patrick McGowan, Assistant Wastewater Superintendent.
The difference was immediately noticeable. It doubled the plant's efficiency and saved Puebloans $20 million dollars.
"What Brown and Caldwell has enabled us to do is to do more with less," McGowan said.
Wastewater plants use microorganisms to breakdown sewage. Those organisms need oxygen which requires energy to pump air in. The hydrocyclone lets Pueblo pump less air, reducing energy costs.
"We're saving over $150,000 a year with that," McGowan said.
There's an even greater costs savings to operating the plant at these lower oxygen levels. The same organisms can now absorb more phosphorus from the water reducing the need for chemical treatments.
"It's about $330,000 per year in savings," McGowan said.
As a result of these upgrades, Pueblo meets stringent new water quality standards years ahead of schedule letting the city earn credits from environmental regulators to be applied to future permitting costs.
"We're meeting permit now, we can buy credits going into the future which saves, there again, the City of Pueblo and the citizens a lot of money," McGowan said.
The city was awarded the national Water Environment Federation Project Excellence Award for 2020.