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New regulations force CSU to make multimillion dollar improvements

By Rachael Plath, Good Morning Colorado Meteorologist/Reporter, r.plath@krdo.com
Published On: Oct 29 2013 06:40:07 PM CDT

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release new regulations on what is in wastewater. To comply with these upcoming regulations, Colorado Springs Utilities is undergoing a $3.1 million project at its treatment facilities.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to make changes to wastewater regulations in January.

According to Colorado Springs Utilities, the changes will be specifically related to the presence of nitrogen and phosphorous in wastewater that has undergone treatment.  Currently, there are no standards regulating the amount of these elements in wastewater.  They can kill plants and animals downstream from treatment plants.

“There is a nationwide approach to improve quality in our receiving streams, such as rivers and lakes.  So, we are making some improvements to our treatment processes to remove nitrogen and phosphorous,” said Lisa Barbato, wastewater treatment plant manager with CSU.

Barbato said CSU is testing different methods that will achieve compliance with the new regulations, and said they have proven successful.

“Actually we do have some preliminary results and we are seeing our effluent phosphorous levels have dropped from 2.5 milligrams per liter to less than 1, and the standard is 1,” said Barbato.

Other elements the EPA will begin regulating include pharmaceuticals, personal-care products and deposits from certain detergents and cosmetics that are not eliminated during the treatment process.

The project is expected to cost $3.1 million, and will be completed in 2016.  CSU has received a $1 million grant from the state to begin implementing the improvements.  The dividend will be passed along to  customers, who could see their bills increase beginning in 2015.  The cost that customers could see on their bill is heavily dependent on the number of customers at this point. 

KRDO Newschannel 13 will be tracking the determination of this additional cost, releasing that information as it is received.

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