The straight poop

Looks like recent upgrades at the Santa Rita Water Reclamation Facility have made significant improvements to the treated water sent downstream in the Animas River, according to a new report from Mountain Studies Institute.

In 2014, the City of Durango launched a nearly $60 million improvement project at the facility to address population growth, meet future regulatory requirements and protect the quality of the Animas River. That project, including a brand-spanking new wastewater treatment plant, was completed in the past few years. Soon after, the city partnered with MSI and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment to test whether the upgrades had any measurable improvement to downstream water quality.

According to MSI, water samples were taken before the improvements (to establish a baseline) and after at various locations downstream of the facility a couple times throughout the year.

The results are in, with water quality showing large reductions of nutrient and bacteria concentrations including:

• 93% reduction in phosphorus

• 59% reduction in nitrogen

• 90% reduction of E. coli

To put it simply, the water being released back into the Animas after treatment at the Santa Rita facility showed levels similar to the water quality in the Animas upstream of the facility.

“The improvements were successful at meeting water quality regulation requirements,” MSI said in a statement. “In addition, the improved treatment of excess nutrients and harmful bacteria improve the downstream water quality of the Animas River by protecting aquatic life and maintaining safe water quality for human recreation, domestic water supply, irrigation and other uses.”

In addition to local kayakers and others who tend to spend a lot of time upside down in the river, we’re sure our friends (both people and aquatic life) in Aztec and Farmington are happy about this, too.

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