In 2015, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) published the Colorado Water Plan, a comprehensive statewide framework for addressing the present and future water challenges that Colorado communities face.
The plan concluded that, even with aggressive conservation, Colorado will face significant water supply shortages by 2050. By the same year, the state’s population is expected to double current values, placing heavy burdens on natural resources and existing water collection and conveyance systems, especially under the state’s frequent drought conditions.
Located in South-Central Colorado, Colorado Springs Utilities relies heavily on water conveyed from other parts of the state. As the largest Colorado city that does not reside on a river or a major stream, they have long spearheaded water stewardship and reuse efforts that make the most out of water available to them, including pioneering the use of reclaimed water for non-potable irrigation use in the 1960s.
Anticipating the potential role of direct potable reuse (DPR) in the coming decades, Colorado Springs Utilities initiated a trailblazing effort to design, construct, and successfully utilize the PureWater Colorado Mobile Demonstration Project, a traveling DPR demonstration system. The first of its kind, this advanced-water-purification trailer treats secondary- or tertiary-treated wastewater to federal and state drinking water standards without producing a waste stream that requires disposal.
To comply with stringent drinking water regulations and remove emerging constituents, Carollo designed this system with ozonation, biologically active filtration (BAF), microfiltration, granular activated carbon, and ultraviolet (UV)/advanced oxidation. Built by dedicated students, staff, and faculty from the Colorado School of Mines, the system can purify 5 gallons per minute, and its state-of-the-art process train comprises available and accessible technologies that can be scaled up to a water treatment plant that produces millions of gallons of water per day.
Funded by a $350,000 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, this project was planned and operated in consultation with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). This project provided key context as CDPHE developed DPR regulations for Colorado, which are expected to be finalized in 2023. By setting achievable but uncompromising water quality standards, other municipalities can begin evaluating the benefits and feasibility of such reuse projects and engaging their customers by demonstrating the ability to safely produce purified water.
Finally, this project fostered community collaboration to transparently usher in an even more water-secure future for Colorado. For instance, beverage producers in the area partnered with Colorado Springs Utilities to produce beer, hard seltzer, and soda using the trailer’s purified water to educate the public on the benefits of DPR.
Though small, this mighty mobile unit and its product demonstrate how DPR is a safe, reliable, and cost-effective technology that diversifies Colorado’s water portfolio and forwards the principles of sustainability, water reuse, and environmental stewardship.
Results and Highlights
A flexible, demonstration unit that applies an advanced carbon-based advanced treatment process to purify recycled water to potable water standards.
Public education on the functionality, merits, and safety of DPR.
A mobile trailer that helps demonstrate how DPR can reduce conveyance pumping and infrastructure and, as such, reduce energy consumption and transit losses.
Grant-funded project that fosters collaboration between utility, consultant, state regulators, and local engineering schools.
Project Awards and Accolades