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City of Pueblo wins national award for wastewater nutrient treatment innovation

The City of Pueblo, Colorado, and Brown and Caldwell today proudly announces receipt of the Water Environment Federation (WEF) 2020 Project Excellence Award for enhancements made to the James R. Dilorio Water Reclamation Facility (JR Dilorio WRF) to affordably and sustainably meet state nutrient water quality regulations.

WEF’s annual awards competition pays tribute to excellence and innovation in the execution of projects and programs in the water sector.

Treating more than 10 million gallons of wastewater per day (MGD) generated in Pueblo’s homes, businesses, and industries, the JR Dilorio WRF safely discharges reclaimed water to the Arkansas River, supporting numerous beneficial uses including aquatic life and agricultural irrigation in southeastern Colorado.

In 2012, Colorado introduced stringent nutrient requirements of point source nutrient dischargers, such as wastewater facilities, to reduce nuisance algal growth in the state’s lakes, rivers, and streams that will go into effect after 2027.

Taking advantage of an incentive program aimed at reducing nutrient discharges sooner, the City partnered with leading environmental engineering and construction firm Brown and Caldwell to implement an innovative nutrient removal and process intensification solution at the JR Dilorio WRF. Combining advanced aeration control and a hydrocylone-based wasting process, ‘Ntensify™’ is a suite of solutions developed by Brown and Caldwell to intensify the nutrient treatment process.

In adopting Ntensify, the JR Dilorio WRF has increased its treatment capacity by 50% with less energy, chemical, and disposal costs than traditional nutrient removal, and without expensive capital investment. The award-winning upgrades have enhanced secondary wastewater processing capabilities to substantially reduce nitrogen and phosphorus from the effluent discharged into the Arkansas River, bringing nutrient levels consistently below regulatory requirements.

“We started up the Ntensify system at our plant nearly a year ago, and we saw almost immediate positive results,” said JR Dilorio WRF Superintendent John Millard. “The system has been simple to operate, and it has proven to be a huge benefit to us. We no longer need to feed chemicals, and the plant is now running in a more stable and positive manner.”

Planning for the project began in 2016 and was completed in May 2019, well in advance of the incentive program deadline. As a result, the enhancements at the JR Dilorio WRF earned the City credits to extend its schedule to comply with the pending, more stringent nutrient discharge limits.

“I’m thrilled our successful partnership with the City has been recognized with this prestigious award,” said Brown and Caldwell Director of Process Engineering and Wastewater Innovation Leader Jose Jimenez. “Ntensify is just one example of how Brown and Caldwell stays at the forefront of technical innovation while leading effective planning and regulatory strategies to position our clients for long-term success.”