Nature preserve soon to replace Clifton’s old wastewater lagoons

By LE ROY STANDISH

They are piling it high in Clifton.

For the past week, heavy earth-moving machinery steadily has been eating its way through tons of sediment. A thick, black mountain, about 100 feet high, is being formed from the waste deposited here over the years, layer by layer, in the lagoons of the Clifton Sanitation District’s old wastewater treatment plant, southeast of 32 and D roads.

“We are removing all the sludge out of the bottom of them,” said Brian Woods, district manager.

As of Wednesday, workers were halfway through the job of dredging the district’s three decommissioned lagoons. The lagoons have been replaced by a new $22.5 million wastewater treatment plant east of the dry lagoons.

The district had to build the plant to meet federal standards for clean drinking water and to increase the district’s capacity to handle wastewater from a growing community.

The new plant can process 2.5 million gallons of wastewater each day, Woods said.

The sludge is being piled and spread out to dry on a 1.6-acre concrete pad. The district intends to use the sludge as compost to jump-start a nature preserve where the lagoons once where.

“We are trying to make a Class A biosolids product,” he said. “And we are working in conjunction with the (Colorado Division of Wildlife) and the National Resources Conservation Service.”

Where waterfowl once feathered themselves in for a landing atop the rippling surface of the aerated wastewater ponds, district officials are envisioning a wildlife habitat and wetlands. To accomplish that, the district applied for and received a $100,000 grant from the DOW, Woods said.

He said it is costing around $5 million to clean up and reclaim the old wastewater lagoons.

“Hopefully we’ll have the majority of it done by this fall,” Woods said.


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