Fremont Sanitation District

Organizational Structure

The front of the Fremont Sanitation District buildingFremont Sanitation District was formed in 1983 for the purpose of providing sanitary sewer service. It consisted of the Cañon Metropolitan Sanitation District, the Florence Sanitation District, the East Cañon Sanitation District, the Lincoln Park Sanitation District and the prison systems. The consolidation of these districts served to meet the new public laws enacted in 1972.

The Fremont Sanitation District is a Title 32 Special District that works like its own city, county or school district. It is a quasi-private public enterprise which is a non-profit corporation, owned by the residents within the District’s boundaries, and governed by the elected board members.

The seven member board is elected by ward to ensure representation from all parts of the county. Each member serves a four year term. The board hires a manager, adopts budgets, and sets rates, regulations and policies.

The District offers 24/7 availability, 365 days per year, with one hour response time to deal with emergency situations.

Collections Department

The Environmental Protection Agency mandates that the District check and clean the entire sewerage system which adds up to approximately 160 miles of pipe every five years. To accomplish this, the Collections team sends a camera into the sewer lines – a robot on wheels. An operator controls the camera remotely, looking for cracks or blockages in the pipes. About 4,000 feet of pipe are televised each week.

If there is an obstruction, they call in the heavy artillery. The team uses high pressure nozzles to blast and cut obstructions. They range from ultra high pressure nozzles for removing root balls to low pressure nozzles for simple cleaning. In a normal week, approximately 8,000 feet of pipe is cleaned.

Cracked or damaged pipes are logged into the Pipeline Assessment Certification Program and rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being for small cracks and 5 being for severe cracks, missing pieces of pipe or root infiltration. The Collections team accurately maps all trouble spots and catalogs the needed repairs for the Construction Department.

Construction Department

Fremont Sanitation DistrictWhen pipes needing attention are identified, the Construction Department gets to work. Most of our Districts’ pipes are clay pipes which are over 100 years old. The District is always at work to systematically replace the old clay pipes with new PVC plastic pipes.

The Construction Crew has to work carefully, often in tight spaces, to be mindful of personal property lines and other utility lines as it digs down to the sewer lines. Unlike other utility lines, the sewer pipes must be maintained at a certain slope to ensure proper flow.

The Construction Department helps maintain the sewer lines in the streets all the way to the main interceptor that carries the waste to the treatment plant. Homeowners are responsible for the sewer line from their home to the main sewer line in the street.

Engineering Department

When the Collections Department finds a problem, the Engineering Department does research into the problem area. They provide maps and they lay out the project making sure everything runs smoothly and efficiently.

The Engineering Department works with the other utility companies, the city and the county to combine projects while keeping an eye on financial efficiency. For example, if the City Water Department needs to dig up a street for a new water line, and we have old clay pipes that need to be replaced, we can save our customers money by sharing the construction costs with the water department.

Developers work closely with our Engineering Department from adding a single home on a vacant lot to a 400 dwelling subdivision.

Fremont Sanitation District History

Sanitary Sewer Systems in Fremont County

Fremont Sanitation DistrictConstruction of sanitary sewers began in Fremont County before the turn of the century.  These systems discharged directly into the Arkansas River.  By the end of 1910, complete sanitary sewerage systems were in place in south Cañon, the old part of Cañon City and Florence and are still in service today

In 1953, the Cañon Metropolitan Sanitation District was formed, and the first wastewater treatment plants were constructed in Cañon City and Florence.  Interceptor sanitary sewer systems were constructed that transferred waste water to the treatment plants before discharging into the river.

In 1963, the East Cañon Sanitation District was formed.  They constructed sanitary sewers and a wastewater treatment plant to service the then rapidly growing town of East Cañon.  The Florence Sanitation District was also formed in the 1960’s.

In 1972, the Lincoln Park Sanitation District was formed. Sanitary sewers were constructed to serve an area roughly described as being north of Sand Creek and east of 12th Street.  Lagoons, which are still owned by the District, were constructed east of McKenzie Ave. at the end of McCumber Lane.

Later in 1972, legislation was passed that would require upgrading all existing sewage treatment plants. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (Public Law 92-500) was passed by Congress with the lofty goal of eliminating the discharge of contaminants into the nation's waters by 1985.  

This law specified that treatment plants had to meet certain effluent standards by 1983.  None of the existing plants in this area were meeting these new effluent standards. The Cañon City plant was already over capacity and a facilities study was already underway. 

The East Cañon plant was nearing capacity.  The Colorado Department of Health placed a moratorium on issuance of building permits in East Cañon until they could show that they were trying to get things resolved and had threatened a moratorium on issuing new permits in Cañon City, but the latter was never implemented.

Regional Facility Needed

In 1975, a steering committee was formed to determine if it was feasible to construct a regional facility. Studies were performed, pursuant to federal cost sharing facilities grant, and it was determined that a regional facility was indeed feasible.

In 1979, the Eastern Fremont County Metropolitan Sewage Disposal District was formed which was a joined effort by the four districts: Cañon City, East Cañon, Florence and Lincoln Park and included the systems for the prisons in our county.  This new district began construction of a wastewater treatment plant with a 13 mile interceptor from the plant to 11th street in Cañon. 

On April 23, 1983, the Rainbow Park Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant began operation. The plant has met all effluent standards imposed on it since opening day.  As the final stages of work were being completed, the various boards independently and then collectively decided that it no longer made sense to have a regional authority comprised of the four member districts.

It would make more sense economically to consolidate the four member districts into a single entity. Work began in earnest on the concept of consolidation in 1982 and early in 1983.

By the fall of 1984 all legal and financial issues had been resolved and the consolidation issue was presented to the voters who overwhelmingly approved the consolidation. The following month the voters approved a $3.5 million bond issue so the outstanding debt of the regional authority could be refunded and then disbanded, turning over all assets to the new Fremont Sanitation District.

Treatment Plant

Everything Flows Downhill to the Treatment Plant

Fremont Sanitation District Treatment PlantFremont Sanitation District processes wastewater from a service area that includes Cañon City, Lincoln Park, Florence and 13 state and federal prisons at the Rainbow Park Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant treats an average of 4.5 million gallons of wastewater every day.

The wastewater enters the plant through a 32 inch pipe at the Headworks Building.

The first step is to remove trash from the wastewater. Candy wrappers, banana peels, anything larger than ¼ inch are removed by the bar screen.

Then the wastewater is tested as it comes into the plant. This is called influent which is the untreated water. It is tested to determine the ratio of bacteria and oxygen needed.

The next step is to transport the wastewater up through the Screw Pumps to the Aeration Basins. The Aeration Basins are large tanks where we grow naturally occurring bacteria to break down the waste material. It is stirred up to allow oxygen to mix with the waste and bacteria.

In order to keep a healthy plant, we must keep a delicate balance of wastewater, temperature, bacteria and oxygen. The bacteria we use come from recycling the bacteria that grow and reproduce in the Aeration Basins. The bacteria consumes the waste by a process of reproduction. The young and strong bacteria are lighter in weight and hungry for waste. The older bacteria have had their fill and are slower and heavier and sink to the bottom.

The older bacteria sink to the bottom of a large tank called the Clarifier.

Clearer water rises to the top of the Clarifier. The top one inch of water is skimmed off the surface. Then the clarified water is passed through an Ultraviolet Light. The wave length emitted by the Ultraviolet Light alters the DNA of the pathogens of the remaining bacteria in the water and renders them sterile so that they cannot reproduce. If they cannot reproduce, they are not a threat to our health or the environment.

The layer of water underneath the clarified water contains the young and hungry bacteria. They are sent back to the Aeration Basins to break down more waste.

The older bacteria or sludge that have sunk to the bottom of the Clarifier are sent to the Digesters to starve. The starved bacteria release much of their mass as gases which reduce their size.

Once they are stabilized, they are sent to a Centrifuge. Here a polymer is injected into the material that helps the waste material bond together more efficiently and helps us separate the stabilized material from the remaining water. Here it is spun. When the material enters the Centrifuge, it is about 1% solids and 99% water.

Once it is spun, the stabilized material is about 17% solids and only 83% water. The solid waste is then moved to a dump truck and is taken off site to a concrete slab where it is evenly distributed. There the remaining water is allowed to evaporate until there is about 75% solid. Then it is taken to the end of the line, a landfill.

After the wastewater has been treated, it is tested again to be certain it is within acceptable limits to maintain public safety and within the guidelines of the National Pollutant Discharge & Elimination System (NPDES).

After-Hours Emergencies

Sewer Backups & Related Emergencies

In case of sewer backup or other related emergency - BEFORE 7:00 AM or AFTER 4:30 PM on Monday through Thursday, or on Fridays, weekends, and on scheduled holidays, please contact Fremont Sanitation District through the Cañon City Police Department at (719) 276-5600

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