Boxelder monitors wastewater for early COVID-19 detection

As a longstanding member of the community, Boxelder Sanitation District (BSD) does more than just treat wastewater. BSD has a long history of collaboration with municipalities and water entities throughout Northern Colorado, supporting our neighbors in a variety of ways.

Our newest collaboration efforts involve participating in an innovative program to gather data to support state officials in COVID-19 monitoring and tracking.

BSD has joined 17 other wastewater utilities across Colorado, serving 60% of the state’s population, to participate in a COVID-19 wastewater surveillance collaborative funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). BSD is working with Colorado State University (CSU) and Metro State University (MSU) to develop a statewide wastewater surveillance system for testing of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The state has provided $520,000 in funding to ensure facilities such as BSD can provide an early warning, ranging from a matter of days to a week, to state and local health authorities. The system identifies significant changes that could indicate future COVID-19 outbreaks and potential virus hot spots.

Wastewater can tell you what is happening in the population. People with positive COVID-19 shed virus in their stool and the testing can detect traces of the virus. The idea is, if we see an increase in positive test results, it would provide a lead time for the health department and community to respond to a possible outbreak.

BSD is collecting samples from influent wastewater (water that has not yet been treated) twice a week. Those samples are then delivered to CSU for testing to track COVID-19 virus particles. Using that data, they can detect the prevalence of the disease in the community.

How it works

This innovative practice, which is being implemented around the world to detect the coronavirus, involves CDPHE working with wastewater facilities such as BSD to develop a sampling plan that documents where the samples are collected, procedures for collecting and preserving the sample and safety protocols for all employees involved in the process.

Once the samples are collected, CSU and MSU oversee the testing and documentation of the samples to see if COVID-19 is detected. Considering people can be carriers of the disease and not express any symptoms, the ability to detect COVID-19 in human waste is a valuable tool for scientists.

Without BSD’s contribution to this collaborative effort, the datasets would be incomplete and less effective when decision-makers analyze it. The data will not be directly released from BSD and will take time to be gathered as part of the collaborative program.

Future expansion

There is the potential for additional monitoring in the future for the program, depending on the lab’s capacity in the start-up. More monitoring means more data and more data means better-equipped health experts to defend against COVID-19 and other possible pandemics.

BSD is on the front lines of this innovative testing process that could eventually be installed in broader regions or in more specific areas if it is a success.

The possibility exists to institute such monitoring systems in places like care facilities and college dormitories, where there is a dense population of people that could get the disease if it were present.

In other BSD news

This fall BSD is upgrading its accounting software as part of our ongoing commitment of providing outstanding customer service.

As part of the upgrade, customers receiving statements in the mail will notice a few changes to the design of the bill. The new bills are expected to look like the sample shown here.

There will be no changes to the paperless statements provided by Xpress Bill Pay.

Options for paying your bill will remain the same. Customers are encouraged to sign up for automatic payment with Xpress Bill Pay. A link to Xpress is available on our website boxeldersanitation.org.

As always, if you have questions about your bill, please call us at 970-498-0604, or contact us at info@boxeldersanitation.org.

 

Boxelder expands to serve customers

Times are changing, and you have to adapt and change to keep up. It’s the same story for Boxelder Sanitation District (BSD). In order to ensure that your wastewater needs are met in an efficient affordable manner, we have to stay ahead of the changes our community is experiencing.

BSD is in the process of expanding its current wastewater treatment plant to meet the growing demand for wastewater treatment as well as changing regulations. With increasingly stringent limitations adopted by the State of Colorado, BSD completed a new treatment facility in 2013.

While this facility continues to perform well, in order to maintain compliance and meet new regulations, a second expansion is required. Construction on the expansion is currently underway and is slated for completion in summer 2021.

The new facility will include:

  • Expanded influent screening, grit removal and pumping
  • New anaerobic selector basin and oxidation ditches for biological nutrient removal
  • New final clarifiers
  • New anaerobic selector digesters
  • New solids handling process facility
  • Expanded and upgraded UV system
  • New wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operation building

These upgrades and additions are expected to increase operational efficiencies, meet future regulatory demands and accommodate future growth.

Funding for the project

You may wonder who is footing the bill for all of this. Rest easy, growth pays its own way here – there are no new fees to customers.

This expansion is financed by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA) State Revolving Fund. The CWRPDA is administered by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) with joint funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Colorado.

Project cost breakdown:

  • WWTP construction – $35 million
  • Project loan – $29 million, 30-year, 1.8 percent interest
  • District funds – $6 million from capital revenues from new development
  • Future loan payment support by new development Plant Investment Fee Revenue

What not to flush

We have come a long way from the lagoon system that we started with in 1965, however, as times change so must BSD to ensure that your wastewater needs are met. Help us take care of this new facility by only flushing the three “P’s” down the toilet – pee, poop and toilet paper. Everything else should go in the garbage:

  • Flushable wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Hygiene products
  • Old medication/pills
  • Diapers
  • Dental floss
  • Q-tips/cotton balls
  • Dead goldfish
  • Fats, oils & grease
  • Cigarette butts
  • Hair
  • Gum

Save time, pay online

Did you know that you can save time and pay your bills online? Sign up for Xpress Bill Pay and enjoy the secure and trusted way to pay your BSD bills. Also included when you sign up is a monthly eNewsletter, which includes all the latest news from Boxelder. Sign up now to stay in the know.

We trust Xpress Bill Pay to handle your account because they are the experts. They work closely with cities, governments and businesses across the country to offer you a seamless bill-paying experience. You can access it 24/7 from any device or enroll in automatic payments so you never have to stress missing a payment.

For all the latest BSD updates visit http://boxeldersanitation.org/.