Denver metro area begins new biosolids management program

Dec. 13, 2002
The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District began a new program recently to improve the way it manages its biosolids. It's called the Environmental Management System (EMS) for Biosolids.

DENVER, Dec. 13, 2002 -- The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District began a new program recently to improve the way it manages its biosolids. It's called the Environmental Management System (EMS) for Biosolids.

"The EMS for Biosolids will provide us a systematic way to improve the way we manage our biosolids," said Mitch Costanzo, director of Resource, Recovery and Reuse, the department primarily responsible for biosolids management at Metro.

Biosolids are the treated, nutrient-rich organic materials that result from processing domestic sewage in a wastewater treatment facility. Biosolids that meet strict quality standards can be recycled as a soil amendment.

Costanzo said the three main objectives of the EMS are to:

-- improve and maintain biosolids product quality and handling efficiency
-- improve public perception and acceptance
-- move beyond regulatory compliance where environmental concerns warrant doing more

The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District is the wastewater treatment agency for most of metro Denver. It applies biosolids as a soil amendment on 52,000 acres of agricultural land it owns east of Deer Trail and on privately owned farms in northeastern Colorado.

"The EMS process will be open to the public so they can see we are doing the best job possible," Costanzo said.

Metro District Manager Bob Hite said two aspects of Metro's EMS make it different from other environmental management systems: an audit by outside, third-party auditors, and its openness to public review and participation.

An internal audit is expected in June or July. The first third-party audit will come next December.

Hite said he supports the audit process.

"It is important to recognize how critical third-party verification of the process is to increasing public acceptance and to the overall integrity of the program," he said, noting that the results of the audit will be made available to the public.

"Forty-five other wastewater treatment plants across the U.S. are implementing similar EMS programs," Hite said.

The Metro District treats about 155 million gallons of wastewater a day and produces about 80 dry tons of biosolids a day. The treated wastewater is discharged to the South Platte River just north of Denver.

Source: The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District

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