Upgrades to City of Durango’s Water Treatment Plant Improve Water Quality, Generate Power
The City of Durango recently partnered with Mountain Studies Institute and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment’s (CDPHE) Measurable Results Program (MRP) to determine whether their recent water reclamation facility treatment upgrades resulted in measurable improvements to downstream water quality in the Animas River. See the graphic below or read the full results here.
More on the water treatment plant upgrade from Durango Utilities Manager Justin Elkins:
“The upgrade to Durango’s wastewater treatment plant included expansion of the hydraulic and organic capacities, as well as employing the latest proven technology for greater removal of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen. The new facility’s treatment technology is a method called Modified Johannesburg. This method uses consecutive treatment zones within the secondary treatment process that serve as a home for different types of microbes. One particular type of microbe is a Phosphorus Accumulating Organism (PAO).
Unlike you, me, and the trees who are approximately 1% phosphorus by weight, a PAO can be up to 8% phosphorus by weight. The new treatment technology encourages uptake of phosphorus by these PAOs, who then settle to the bottom of the subsequent tanks and are removed from the system in the form of Biosolids. This process makes the City’s Biosolids roughly 7% Nitrogen and 3% Phosphorus by weight.
The City is currently shopping local sites for land application of its Biosolids soil amendment and encourages any interested party to contact Justin Elkins, 970-375-4896, for details.
The Santa Rita Water Treatment Facility also produces electricity on site through methane capture and co-generating microturbines. This works starts with the anaerobic digesters which are heated to create conditions appropriate for mesophilic bacteria. These bacteria convert volatile fatty acids (food) to CO2 and methane.
The methane is then compressed and burned to generate electricity. Because the Santa Rita Facility requires a lot of electricity to operate the various pumps and compressors on site, not enough electricity is generated to put back onto the grid; however, the total power generated each day could power an average home for a month.”