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Harnessing the Natural Process for Clean Water in Colorado

August 20, 2014

Aurora Water

Let’s Envision the Infrastructure for Tomorrow

America’s infrastructure needs a national commitment to bring existing infrastructure into a state-of-good-repair, and in the long term we must modernize and build in a targeted and strategic manner. This means leadership at the federal, state, and local levels of government, by businesses and individuals, to communicate the importance of our nation’s infrastructure, to craft innovative solutions that reflect the diverse needs of the nation, and to make the investments the system needs. By employing strategies to use every dollar more efficiently and by deploying creative solutions to infrastructure development such as public–private partnerships, we can implement the right projects on time at the right price. Below is a brief success story that shows how we can do this effectively.

Water Success Story: Harnessing the Natural Process for Clean Water

During 2003, the city of Aurora, Colorado, was months from needing to ration water to maintain a dwindling supply decimated by a severe drought. With a municipal water system serving 300,000 people on the brink of collapse, city leaders developed the Prairie Waters Project to ensure that it was capturing all the water the city currently owns in wells near the South Platte River’s bank for use by Aurora residents.

The water collected is piped 34 miles to a new purification facility near the Aurora Reservoir that combines natural purification with advanced engineering solutions. The facility is designed to work in conjunction with the project’s natural purification area, where water percolates with the natural sand and gravel found along the river. Because this process purifies the water naturally, there is no waste that must be discharged back into the river, and it greatly reduces the demand on more energy-intensive filtration.

Colorado’s volatile water market makes purchasing additional water resources time-consuming and expensive. Not only is the project cost-effective through developing already owned water resources, but other design and operation features work together to maximize the use of city funds. The Prairie Waters Project delivers water to the city fast and on time, and uses water from the South Platte River, which will be available even when other supplies are low.

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