Colorado Public Works Journal, Fall/Winter 2022

14 Colorado Public Works Journal In 2021, through this process Denver Water was able to close out four bid packages, accept 93 sheets of record drawings, and release over $1 Million in retainage funds. Sustainable From Start to Finish One of the most impressive parts of the Northwater Treatment Plant is the focus on sustainability. The idea of sustainable operations reaches beyond the plant’s environmental impacts, touching on everything from financial sustainability to growth and operational sustainability. When Denver Water and Jacobs/CDM Smith began planning the design of the NTP, one of the most important factors of the project was to make sure that the plant was not only environmentally sustainable, but that it also fit discretely into the land. Driving down Highway 93, if you didn’t know it was there, you would miss the site all together. The plant site is set in a small valley allowing many of the process buildings to be constructed in the hillside. They are nearly hidden from site, leaving the views unobstructed. This below ground construction serves as another purpose. Utilizing the ground as a natural insulation, Denver Water can reduce the energy demands on the site. Eventually, building roofs will have solar panels and hydropower generators will be installed within the process. Solar and hydropower will generate enough energy to power the entire treatment process at Northwater. One of Denver Water’s core values is sustainability. The NTP when completed will have an Envision Gold Building Certification for the construction and treatment process buildings. The NTP will be the first water treatment plant in Colorado to receive this certification. Additionally, the site administration building will be a LEED gold certified building. While all of this is great for the environment, green building projects often come with hefty price tags. However, Denver Water understood that rate payer impacts needed to be considered when planning the overall project. Site features such as on-site power generation, space for expansion, changes in treatment chemicals, process automation, and reduced maintenance lower the cost of operation. These efficiencies mean more sustainable rates passed on to residential and municipal customers. Without a sustainable and reliable source of income, Denver Water like all utilities cannot continue to provide an exceptional product or reliable customer service to their customers. Much of the cost for the project was bonded, allowing Denver Water to limit rate increases to current and future customers. Preparing for the Future One of the lessons learned over the years by Denver Water is that planning for the future makes more sense than reacting to the needs of today. The NTP is a great example of this experience in action. The plant under construction today will have a capacity of 75 million gallons per day. Based on growth projections this should be enough capacity for the next 20 years. When it’s time to expand, the buildings and treatment processes have been designed to easily accommodate an additional 75 million gallons of demand a day. Add to continued growth, the need to respond to climate change and impacts to water supply from climate change has also been considered in the future of the NTP. Learning from the past, the NTP has been designed so that additional treatment can be added in as little as two years should wildfires impact land within Denver Water’s watershed areas. The treatment process used at the NTP is traditional multi-media filtration. However, the settling phase of the process at the NTP will utilize high rate settling to manage high turbidity water conditions found during flooding events. The process will also use more robust solids handing systems and UV technology for disinfection and treatment of emerging contaminants. During the first few years that the NTP is in operation, the Moffat Plant will remain functional. This will allow Denver Water staff the time to learn and work through the kinks of starting up a new plant. At start up in 2024 the plant will have minimal operation and maintenance staff. Denver Water anticipates that this will reduce costs over time and minimize cost increases that would be passed on to rate payers. Guiding the Future Denver Water has always been an innovator in treatment and sustainability practices for water providers. The Northwater Treatment Plant and the North System Renewal Program are no exception to this vision. Being both innovative in construction process as well as financially and environmentally sustainable, Denver Water continues to be a leader in the water treatment industry in Colorado and across the United States.

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