Boxelder has long committed itself to environmental responsibility. As a wastewater treatment provider, it’s in our nature. Our primary mission at the District is the safe and responsible treatment of our customer’s wastewater, and the return of clean water back into our region’s waterways. But our service to the environment doesn’t stop at water. Being an eco-conscious wastewater treatment district means examining every decision we make under the lens of sustainability—from major operations in our treatment facility to everyday office tasks.
It’s our hope that when people think of “green” water, they won’t just think about the Chicago River during St. Patrick’s Day.
So, what does all of this mean for customers and are there ways to help out? Read on!
Boxelder’s footprint and the environment
Boxelder Sanitation District is a special district founded in 1965 by a collection of property owners outside the purview of the City of Fort Collins’ services. Governed by a Board of Directors elected to guide the District’s strategic initiatives, Boxelder serves roughly 20,000 Northern Colorado customers covering four municipalities (Fort Collins, Windsor, Severance and Timnath) as well as unincorporated areas of Larimer and Weld Counties. In total, it’s a lot of people: Just shy of 2 million gallons of wastewater are processed each day—that’s more than 700 million gallons a year.
Wastewater treatment is vital to the health and safety of our growing region. The return of clean water to our rivers and reservoirs not only sustains life for our community and our ecosystem, but also helps ensure continued access to clean water for drinking, irrigation and recreation.
But clean water isn’t our only focus. In recent years, the Board of Directors has helped the District move toward sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives across our operations.
The biggest initiative—no surprise—involves the biggest part of our operation: our wastewater treatment facility.
Reducing Boxelder’s eco-footprint, while expanding its services
Rapid, sustained growth in the region has brought a lot of benefits, but also challenges. The increased demand for wastewater treatment is one challenge and was the catalyst for the recent Boxelder treatment facility expansion. But just as we’ve responsibly grown our physical footprint, we’ve responsibly planned for the reduction of our ecological footprint.
The best measurement to illustrate those efforts is Boxelder’s source energy use, which calculates the total amount of raw fuel required to operate a property; energy loss during generation, transmission and distribution is factored into the number.
Compared to benchmark figures measured in 2016, since we began major repairs, equipment upgrades and facility expansion, Boxelder Sanitation District’s wastewater treatment plant has reduced its source energy use by 19%. In terms of savings, this has resulted in a reduction of total energy costs by 23%.
In addition, Boxelder has committed itself to reducing total greenhouse gas emissions, which are the total carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide gasses released into the atmosphere as a result of energy consumption on a property. Since 2016, Boxelder has reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.
One more measurement we’re proud of—and still working to improve—is our U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Score. This is a score that measures how well a property is performing relative to similar properties, when normalized for climate and operational characteristics (all things being relative). Ranging from 1 to 100 (50 being the national mean and 75 the requirement for an Energy Star Certification), the score given to Boxelder in 2016 was a respectable 83. Since then, the District has improved that score to 93.
While we use these measurements to showcase the progress Boxelder has made to bring sustainability and earth-smart decisions to our operations, we recognize that they’re just a snapshot in time. Our Board of Directors and staff are committed to continuing, and building up, those efforts to ensure clean water and a greener level of service expectation into the future.
Be part of the solution: Reduce your paper
Conservation is a communal effort and that extends to Boxelder customers. While the responsibility of stewardship is ours, there are a number of ways customers can help us create a greener, more efficient service. The easiest way is to consider your mail.
We live in a digital age, which is why we’ve heavily promoted our paperless billing. In 2020, Boxelder had 479 requests to go paperless. In 2021, that number rose to 736 requests for a total of 30% paperless customers. The savings from paperless billing not only helps the District streamline operations, but it also reduces our overall operational footprint. Additionally, the District also offers an over-the-phone payment option with our interactive voice response system. Learn more about both on our website.
Customers can also help out by being mindful of what not to flush, which helps the District reduce its energy use. To learn more—or for a quick reminder—download this handy PDF guide.