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Storytelling is based on the word, being an honorable person of integrity is based on your word.
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 8 August 2020  

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  Cherokee updates on upgrading wastewater treatment facility (continued)
  By Pete Gawda

   In 2016, Cherokee requested lower TDS standards for the Upper Black Squirrel Creek aquifer. A hearing was held in which local farmers and the Upper Black Squirrel Creek District Ground Water Management District presented information arguing for lower standards. Local farmers argued that higher TDS levels would impact future potential agricultural uses and would affect the value of water rights. While Cherokee argued that higher TDS levels would cause them a financial hardship, UBS stated that higher TDS levels would create a financial hardship for local farmers because of decreased crop yields. After considering all the evidence presented, the CDPHE took no action and the higher TDS level remained in effect.
   
   “Turnips and dry beans have not been grown in El Paso County for 50 or 60 years,” Hoadley said.
   
   “It comes down to a theoretical crop,” said Amy Lathen, general manager of Cherokee Metropolitan District.
   
   To comply with lower TDS limits, Cherokee is upgrading its facility. In August 2019, the board of directors approved a design-build engineering firm for the final design of the upgrade to reverse osmosis. This is a high-density membrane filtration system designed to remove TDS from the treated wastewater before it is discharged into groundwater. The current capacity of the plant is 4.8 million gallons per day. That capacity will not change with the upgrade. The currently average flow is 2 million gallons a day. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year. The estimated completion date is January 2023.
   
   To pay for the estimated $40 million upgrade, Cherokee has instituted a surcharge of $5.07 a month for all residential users of the system. In addition to residents of Cherokee Metropolitan District, the plant serves Schriever Air Force Base and most of Meridian Metropolitan District. Meridian owns 45.8 percent of the capacity of the Cherokee plant. However, it is Meridian's position that their customers should not have to pay that surcharge. According to Meridian's website, Cherokee's noncompliance is caused by design or construction defects that Cherokee allowed to occur. The two districts are scheduled to go to mediation in the near future. If mediation is unsuccessful, they will go to arbitration in January.
   
   A site 5 miles east of the facility on Drennan Road is the location that has created the problems. At this site, treated effluent is discharged into the aquifer. In an open field are 10 basins 20-feet-deep that have sandy bottoms. Treated effluent piped from the treatment facility fills these basins and trickles through the sand into the Upper Black Squirrel Creek aquifer.
   
   “We have actually replenished the basin,” Lathen said. Since this process has begun, she said the water level in the aquifer has increased 40 feet.
   
   
This centrifuge separates the sludge from the effluent at the Cherokee Metropolitan District wastewater treatment plant.Portrayed is a treated effluent that has gone through the final stage of treatment and is being released into a basin with a sandy bottom to recharge the aquifer.
This empty basin is one of 10 such basins with a sandy bottom that discharges treated effluent into the Upper Black Squirrel Creek Basin at the Cherokee Metropolitan District wastewater treatment facility.
These pipes and valves are used to control the flow of wastewater at Cherokee Metropolitan District’s wastewater treatment facility.This is the first step in the treatment process. From here, the effluent is piped into a centrifuge to separate the sludge.
  
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