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Prairie Waters

Prairie Waters system map

Prairie Waters is an innovative potable reuse system that uses a sustainable water source by recapturing river water as a cornerstone of a water supply plan that will help meet much of Aurora’s needs for decades. Prairie Waters uses both natural cleansing processes and state-of-the-art purification technology to deliver up to an additional 10-12 million gallons of water per day.

Aurora owns rights to water in the South Platte River Basin which includes water from the Colorado and Arkansas River Basins, as well as agricultural rights in the South Platte purchased from willing sellers. In most cases, Aurora’s water rights in the South Platte allow the city to use the water “to extinction”. Essentially, this means that the water residents use for washing, laundry, showering, as well as some of the water from lawn watering, stays in the South Platte River Basin. Since this water is not native to the South Platte basin, we have the right to take an equivalent amount back out of the river.

Prairie Waters begins along the South Platte River in Weld County. Through riverbank filtration, 29 wells pull the water through hundreds of feet of sand and gravel to clean out impurities. For more than a century, riverbank filtration has been used in Europe and has proven to be especially effective in removing pharmaceuticals. As some other water utilities struggle to find ways to remove these new contaminants from their supply, Aurora Water is ahead of the curve with some of the most advanced purification technology in the country.

Once the riverbank filtration process is complete, the next natural cleansing step is a process called aquifer recharge and recovery. The water is pumped into basins where it percolates through more sand and gravel over a longer period of time. This is a continuation of the Riverbank Filtration and removes even more contaminants.

From here, a pipeline carries the water to three different pump stations - one in Brighton, another near E-470, north of Pena Boulevard and the last one in Aurora, near Gun Club Road. The pump stations lift the water almost 1000 feet so it can make its way over a ridge and ultimately to the Peter D. Binney Purification Facility, located near Aurora Reservoir.

PWP Treatment Processes

Once the water makes it to the purification facility, it undergoes some of the most advanced purification processes in the country. It is the final leg of the Prairie Waters System. This 70-acre campus is designed to allow for easy expansion, yet it blends in with the natural surroundings.

The facility includes ultraviolet oxidation, the most powerful process available for water treatment. With more than 90 steel tubes and weighing more than 4,000 pounds each, these ultraviolet units complete the job that the riverbank filtration started. It’s the largest UV water treatment facility in the nation, and once operational, high intensity ultraviolet rays will destroy unwanted contaminants, including trace amounts of chemical, viruses and other compounds. The final step is to pass the water through activated carbon filters, just like larger versions of the one in water pitchers you can use at home. This last step before chlorination ensures the water has that great, award winning taste we all expect from Aurora’s water.

This facility can treat 50 million gallons of water each day. Together, with the rest of Aurora Water’s mountain supply, the Prairie Waters System provides residents with the drought protection they need and the additional water supply to accommodate residents of the future.

Prairie Waters System Fact Sheet

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